Malawi netball senior national team rivals, South Africa’s Spar Proteas, have withdrawn from the 2015 Africa Netball Championship currently underway in Botswana. The pull-out of the Proteas, who are ranked second in Africa, has quelled fears that the Queens could be overtaken as the continent’s number one netball team.
South Africa was earlier reportedly also heading for Botswana, hence the fears. Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rosy Chinunda had feared for the Queens’ absence at the Bona Courts in Gaborone could hurt the ranking and compromise preparations for this August’s World Cup in Australia
. But NAM general secretary Carol Bapu, who is in Botswana to attend Africa Netball annual general meeting that eventually elected her vice-chairperson, told MBC Radio 2 FM yesterday that all participating teams such as Zambia and the hosts, were ranked too lowly for their results to affect Malawi.
South Africa have opted to prepare for the Australia trip by playing test matches in England, whereas Uganda withdrew due to lack of sponsorship. It was on similar sponsorship grounds that the Queens have missed out on the Botswana championship which could have provided them an opportunity to win the continental crown they surrendered to Proteas at Blantyre Youth Centre in 2013.
Meanwhile, Botswana Netball Association president Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego told that country’s Mmegi newspaper at the weekend that other participating teams in the tournament ending this Wednesday were Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Swaziland. “Participating teams pay for their accommodation, meals and transport. The competing teams equally share the costs of international umpires,” she said, adding that her association is footing the visitors’ local transport, accommodation and food costs.