The Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) vice-president Chimwemwe Kachingwe has admitted that Queens’ six straight Fast5 World Netball Series defeats are “a wake-up call that the team is not heading in the right direction”.
“My message to the nation is that I feel their frustrations and disappointment. This should be a wake-up call to all of us that we are not heading in the right direction. We need to sit down, identify and solve the problems one-by-one,” Kachingwe explained on Monday.
The Africa number one team, minus star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, failed to better their previous fifth place as they finished at the tail end of the tournament, which hosts New Zealand won after beating Australia on Sunday.
Kachingwe insisted that there is more to a team than one player as the others were also equally good.
Queens’ only sure scoring source was goal attacker Sindi Simtowe whereas improvised goal shooter Loreen Ngwira lacked precision and athleticism. Malawi did not maximise use of their power play quarters.
“It is surprising. We thought we would perform better than last time when we were number five. We were hoping to be either number four or three. We have to go back to the drawing board and sit down with the coaches. I thought we would go there with a lot of strength as before the tournament our girls participated in GOtv Fast5 tournament,” Kachingwe noted.
In a separate interview, a Lilongwe-based Queens fan, Zione Mzungu, on Monday said she was disappointed with the poor results in New Zealand. She said a lot needs to be done to support the team financially.
Complex Tigresses coach Charles Mhango was not surprised with the defeats, the first time in the team’s Fast5 history, saying problems could be traced from actual suspect squad selection and the discontent among players over unpaid dues from last year.
“In coaching, there is a principle of small mouth and big ear. You must listen, but this did not happen. The selection is not a true reflection of GOtv stand-out players. Defenders such as Martha Dambe and Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira were also fielded in the centre. I thought it was easier for a wing-attacker to play as centre than defender,” said Mhango.
Youth and Sports Development Minister Grace Chiumia patted the girls for trying their best, noting that new players who were in the team might have failed to adapt on the big stage. She also admitted that the Queens’ trip to New Zealand was punctuated with disturbances.
“I would encourage the coach to identify more talent. We should not rely on one shooter,” Chiumia said yesterday.
Former Queens captain Peace Chawinga-Kalua did not comment whereas another side-lined player only spoke anonymously, attributing the struggles to poor finishing and failure to control the centre and supply balls.
“The coach featured a defender [Martha Dambe] as a centre yet she has never played in that role. Upfront, we were only relying on Sindi [Simtowe] and she was overworked. The defence was fine, though,” she said.