While netball clubs continue to lose their players to foreign teams without benefiting financially, agents are pocketing facilitation fees, Nation on Sunday has established. Malawi has exported Mwawi Kumwenda to Australia and Joyce Mvula to England while Melvis Kayange, Martha Kaunda and Esther Sibale are plying their trade in South Africa.
In all these players’ deals, their parent clubs did not benefit anything. Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu said they do not have guidelines to enforce payment of transfer fees.
But she said plans are underway to block any free deals, saying it is time clubs started to benefit from the deals.
“I don’t want to disclose the specifications of our plans, but I can assure you that we are working to end the system of signing our players for free because it is not fair to the country’s netball,” she said.
According to Bapu they have been clearing players on free transfers to avoid putting off the foreign clubs.
Blue Eagles Sisters coach Sam Kanyenda said it was displeasing that local clubs invest their hard earned resources to nurture players only for foreign clubs to sign them on free transfers.
He called on NAM to formulate rules that would ensure that foreign clubs compensate the teams, a move he said would empower clubs most of which are struggling financially.
Kanyenda said: “We can’t continue to be duped because we fear that our players will not be signed if we demand transfer fees. If they are able to pay agent’s fees they should also be able to pay transfer fees.
“But then it must be NAM pushing for such changes because they are also losing out because they are supposed to be collecting a percentage from these transfer fees.”
Kukoma Diamonds general secretary Chimwemwe Bakali, who was part of the team that brokered for Mwawi Kumwenda’s deal to Australia, said the key challenge that leads to free transfers is desperation.
“We are vulnerable because we show too much desperation that we want to export players to foreign clubs.
They [foreign clubs] know this and they try all the tricks to get the players for free,” he said.
Bakali said NAM officials were in forefront encouraging free transfer for Mwawi.
He recounted: “When we were negotiating Mwawi’s transfer, some officials were pressuring us not to set tough transfer conditions as it could jeopardise the deal. In the end, the only thing we got from the Australian club were match balls.”
On her part, Tigresses team manager Helene Mpinganjira-Tasosa said netball authorities need to be resilient by ensuring that Malawi is benefiting from the transfers.
“I think, in the past, we were so excited to have our players in overseas leagues. Now we need to change the status quo by ensuring that we are benefiting from these deals. This could be done if we have proper guidelines set by NAM,” she said.
Meanwhile, a player agent Prince Jere, who runs Touchline Sports Management Agency, said foreign clubs pay up to K800 000 as facilitation fee.
Jere, who facilitated deals for Kayange, Kaunda and Sibale, said: “The agent fees range from R10 000 (K500 000) and R15 000 (about K800 000). We agree this fee before the deal is finalised.”
He also confirmed that foreign clubs prefer free transfers.