here is controversy surrounding the Malawi National Netball Team’s failure to travel to England to participate in a fully-funded Tri-Nations Tournament alongside the hosts and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls.
Initially, the tournament was supposed to run from November 22 to 29, but following the Malawi Queens’ failure to travel to the United Kingdom, only England’s Vitality Roses and Jamaica will take part in the event which is now dubbed Vitality Roses Reunited Series and will throw off on November 28.
In an interview on Saturday, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary (GS) Isaac Chimwala said the Queens will not take part in the tournament because they could not afford to raise $3 000 (about K2.5 million) quarantine fee for each delegation member for a 10-day period which would translate to over K40 million for a delegation of between 15 and 17 players and officials.
He said: “They [England Netball] had offered to foot all the expenses, including travel and accommodation. So, asking them to foot the quarantine fees would have been a burden.
“It’s a huge blow for us considering that we have missed an opportunity for exposure as well as tuning up for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
“We would have also played more friendlies against Wales and Scotland, who wanted to take advantage of our visit to play us.”
But when it was put to him that Malawi is among the countries that were removed from the UK’s Covid-19 red list last month in line with public health advice and did not require to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, Chimwala said he would revert. By press time yesterday, he had not done so.
Part of the guidelines on gov.uk, read: “After you arrive in England you must take a Covid-19 test on or before day two. The day you arrive is day 0.
“If the test result is negative, you do not need to self-isolate.”
However, a source yesterday said the Queens were struck off England Netball’s list after NAM failed to make a final confirmation by the set deadline.
“For whatever reason, NAM did not confirm the Queens’ participation and for planning purposes, England Netball decided to proceed with Jamaica only,” said the source.
Coordinator of the tournament, Ian Holloway, from England Netball could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone yesterday and had also not responded to our questionnaire by press time.
Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa said in an interview yesterday that the failed trip was a missed opportunity.
She said: “The Tri-Nations would have helped us a lot to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
“It could have also provided us an opportunity to expose upcoming players as well as our rankings since England and Jamaica are ranked in the top four.
“So, it is a missed opportunity and a setback.”
In an interview, netball analyst Wesley Namasala said: “It is sad because participation in such tournaments is extremely important for team building and rankings as well.
“Perhaps the question should be when was the tournament known and what was done in preparation as far as financing the same is concerned?
“That brings the issue of strategic planning, more especially for such events which are mostly known at least a year before. Without strategic planning, we should expect such things to happen.”
England is ranked third in the world while Jamaica is fourth and Malawi is sixth.