Malawi Queens will start their preparations for the 2019 Netball World Cup next month, weeks before the global showpiece slated for Liverpool, England.
This is contained in a preparatory programme Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) submitted to the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development through Malawi National Council of Sports.
The ministry’s director of sports Jameson Ndalama confirmed the programme in an interview yesterday, saying: “That is why we have not yet released the team’s funding.”
But while confirming the Queens’ camping schedule, NAM president Khungekile Matiya said they still need the funding earlier for logistical purposes.
“In the budget, there are some items that have to be done before camp. So, it is important that the funds are released in good time.”
Queens’ coach Griffin ‘Zagallo’ Saenda, who has all along expressed worry over the delayed preparations, yesterday changed his tune, saying he has no option but to make do with the proposed camping schedule.
“As it stands, we just have to review our training schedule and make it more intense,” he said.
The 2019 season of the Rainbow Paints-sponsored Blantyre and Districts Netball League, which contributes the bulk of the Queens’ players, is also yet to throw off, but Saenda played down the prospects of the national team players’ fitness being affected.
Meanwhile, all the other contestants in the 16-team event, including fellow Africans—South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe—have already intensified their preparations since last year by, among others, taking part in international test series.
Last week, Zimbabwe travelled to Uganda for two test series against the She-Cranes and they are also set to travel to Zambia for two test series before camping in South Africa for a month ahead of the World Cup.
Towards the end of last year, South Africa hosted a three-nations tournament which involved Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The development comes at a time the Queens risk losing the world’s sixth ranking and Africa’s second ranking to fast-improving seventh-ranked Uganda, who last year beat Malawi to retain the Africa Netball Championship title.
The World Cup, slated for July 12 to 21, will not only determine the Queens’ ranking, but also their privilege to automatically qualify for the next tournament as a team that is within the top-six bracket in the world.