Malawian netballers, like their football counterparts, stand a chance to play in South Africa by April 2013 when the country launches a trailblazing Netball Premier League, Nation Online has learnt.
During last weekâ€™s Diamond Netball Challenge in Pretoria, South Africa sports minister Fikile Mbalula and Netball South Africa president Mimi Mthethwa said the South Africa Netball League seeks to employ two million netballers.
â€œAlready Malawian Mwawi Kumwenda, the best player of the series, who plays for an Australian club has shown interest to play in South Africa,â€ Mthethwa told www.supersport.com after her Spar Proteas beat Malawi 47-43 to win the Diamond Challenge.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Mthethwa said she would â€œafter September, reveal the whole plan for the league.â€
Mwawi, who plays for Australian Victorian League side, Peninsula Waves, on Thursday insisted that there was nothing formal in her discussion with Mthethwa. She is contracted to Waves until 2013.
But Queens defender Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira is keeping her fingers crossed on the prospect of playing in South Africa.
â€œWe learnt about the league during speeches in South Africa. I do not know if they approached some of our players, but I would personally grab with both hands an opportunity to play in South Africa,â€ Ngwira said Thursday.
Speaking when making the announcement, Mbalula said the league was meant to empower women.
â€œThis Diamond Challenge is the centrepiece, but next year in April, just to give you a bite of the cherry, we are going professional. Two million players will be on the payroll and they will play netball week in and week out. If you invest in a woman, you are breaking the cycle of poverty,â€ Mbalula is quoted by SuperSport as saying.
Malawi Queens coach Griffin Saenda on Tuesday confirmed that the South African minister hinted that some foreigners could be earmarked by clubs in the league.
â€œHe did not directly mention Malawian players, but it is common knowledge that they would certainly look up to Malawi for talent. They are targeting two millions netballers,â€ said Saenda.
Reacting to the leagueâ€™s introduction, South Africaâ€™s Proteas coach Elize Kotze said: â€œWe heard rumours, but now I have heard it from the minister himself. We will hold him to it, so there is no going back now.â€
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â€”South Africa and Namibia have professional netballers in Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.
â€”South Africa is Malawi playersâ€™ hot destination, employing nine footballers.