Malawi Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa feels South Africa’s Proteas have an edge over Malawi because they have resources in abundance which keeps them active.
The Queens mentor was summarising her team’s performance at the Africa Netball Championship in Cape Town, South Africa, where they only lost to the hosts and eventual winners Spar Proteas by a five-basket margin.
Malawi’s sheer quality shone like a flare at the continental showpiece where they won five games, including against dethroned champions Uganda’s She-Cranes, who are ranked second on the continent to South Africa.
Queens’ Takondwa Lwazi was also named the tournament’s best centre.
This is the fourth consecutive time the Queens have finished second on the continental stage since they surrendered the crown to South Africa with a 52-54 loss during the 2013 finals at Blantyre Youth Centre.
“They [South Africa] are always active because they have resources and with the necessary support and if we could keep this team active through [frequent] test matches, we can match or even surpass them.
“We are not as active as other teams, but we are not far off,” the Queens coach was quoted as having said by MIJ FM Radio yesterday.
Commenting on the tournament in general, Chawinga-Kaluwa said it was a wonderful experience.
“There were lessons learnt and it has opened my eyes on which areas we need to work on.”
In terms of incentives, Spar Proteas players get R5 000 (about K250 000) each as game bonus and R500 (about K25 000) per day each once called up for international duty while Queens get K20 000 and K2 000, respectively.
Prior to their participation in the African Championship, Spar Proteas had a number of test matches and next month they will have a three-match series against the World Cup bronze medalists England. In contrast, the Queens only had a two-week local camp training.
Former Queens’ captain Emmie Waya-Chongwe agreed with Chawinga-Kaluwa that the Queens require enough resources and incentives to up their game further.
“Apart from not having proper development structures, the Queens lack ample time and adequate funding for preparations ahead of high-profile competitions,” she said.
“In terms of incentives, the Queens are among the least supported teams on the continent. It is a big psychological torture to expect players to perform to their level best when they have left no food in their homes due to meagre allowances. It is important for stakeholders to think about improving the players’ welfare.”
Waya-Chongwe, in this era, the Queens were expected to be at par with the world’s top-four teams, but they have been hovering above sixth place due to inadequate support.
But Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) acting executive secretary Henry Mereka yesterday said while the Queens indeed need more games, they get the necessary government support only that the national team struggles to find a winning formula.
He said: “While I agree that the team must play more games, I do not think we can develop by playing more games. There is more to it than playing the games; resources can be there, but who is to play the games? Do we have the players?
“While we really need to support the Queens to play games, which the government already does by sending them to various competitions, there is also a need for them to do their part. Our efforts are there and it is up to them [Queens] to produce a winning formula.”