South Africa Netball (NSA) has again shown generosity in providing full sponsorship to rivals, Malawi Queensâ€™ participation, in the three-day Netball Diamond Challenge starting on August 15.
Even after meeting the cost of Malawiâ€™s failure to honour a similar invitation in 2010, NSA president Mimi Mthethwa said they would pay for the Queensâ€™ participation at the event also to feature Botswana and Zambia.
“The only thing Malawi have to do is to make themselves available for the tournament on August 13. There is also sponsorship package of R250 000 and top four teams will get a share,” Mthethwa said in an exclusive telephone interview on Tuesday.
The Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rosy Chinunda told the local press that they would meet travel expenses to the event in Pretoria, which has since been shifted from August 11.
Chinunda, whose body has applied for K4 million (about $16 000) help from government to meet camp training expenses and allowances, confirmed on Tuesday that NSA would meet the expenses.
“That was the arrangement all along. We are grateful that our past differences are water under the bridge,” said Chinunda.
Justifying their invitation to the Queens, Mthethwa said having the Africa number one team, Malawi was not optional. NSA demanded an equivalent of K10 million (about $40 000) from NAM after they failed to honour a 2010 invitation.
“We are rivals and not enemies. Our rivalry is in a positive way. When we play, it is beneficial to both of us. They give us a good run for our money. There is need for African teams to play tough matches. We are sending them air tickets and we expect Malawi here on August 13 before the start of the tournament on the 15th,” she said.
The Queens are training at the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) with a 21-member squad, but 12 will eventually make the trip. Queens coach Sam Kanyenda said they have to be cautious in South Africa.
“They travelled to play Jamaica who are a strong opposition. In our opinion, they are taking some route that would ensure them gaining some ideas on how to beat us. We are not shaken though. Our girls always reserve their best when playing South Africa,” Kanyenda said on Wednesday at BYC.
The round-robin international test series, meant to celebrate sporting women and elevate South Africa profile, were earlier scheduled for Cape Town and Johannesburg. Tanzania have since withdrawn from the tournament.