Blantyre and Districts Netball League (BDNL) has insisted that Malawi Queens’ all-rounder Laureen Ngwira is still not eligible to feature for Tigresses in the Rainbow Paints Netball League this season despite Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) clarifying on her status.
In a letter addressed to Tigresses and copied to NAM and Southern Region Netball Committee (SRNC) on October 5, BDNL stated that the local netball governing body convinced them that Ngwira is indeed Tigresses player but she cannot play in the league because the ‘Tiga’ did not register her for this season.
But Tigresses coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa has described the latest development as a mere witch-hunt.
The letter, which BDNL disciplinary committee chairperson Chimwemwe Bakali signed, reads in part: “We refer to your letter of appeal against BDNL’s decision not to allow Tigresses feature Laureen Ngwira in BDNL-organised tournaments until the issue of [her] transfer and clearance is resolved.
“NAM invited us to a meeting and we were informed that the association did not clear Ngwira to transfer to any local or international team. For this reason, [she] is indeed Tigresses’ player. [However], we observed that she was not registered in the league for this season; [hence], not eligible to play for your team.”
According to the letter, Ngwira was not on Tigresses’ list for this season and has to wait for next season.
“Your team paid for registration of 15 players on 19th July, 2018 but did not submit a list despite several reminders. For this reason, BDNL construed the names from match forms submitted in the period to 30th June, 2018 to complete your registration. Please refer to the attached list of Tigresses registered players. Our observation from this is that Laureen Ngwira was not registered,” the letter explains.
But Chawinga-Kaluwa said they wonder why the BDNL is coming up with a different story after NAM clarified Ngwira’s status in Tigresses’ favour.
“As you know, BDNL disciplinary committee chairperson [Bakali] is also Kukoma Diamonds general secretary. Therefore, we feel we are just being victimised for being Diamonds’ rivals,” she said.
Bakali refused to comment on the allegation and referred the matter to BDNL chairperson Junier Kazembe, who said the decisions made through the letter were not aimed at Tigresses but were based on the facts on the ground.
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu refused to comment on the matter.
Ngwira was last year loaned out to the now-defunct English side Team Northumbria without Tigresses’ consent and upon her return home, she was no longer welcomed in domestic competitions.
The controversy surrounding her status prompted the BDNL to release Rainbow Paints League fixtures for the fourth week without including Tigresses, arguing they had to first resolve the issue to avoid “putting the league into disrepute.”
Ngwira’s future remains uncertain