National netball team players alongside their women and men’s football counterparts are demanding a review of their game bonuses and allowances that have stagnated for over a decade.
Malawi Queens say their perks do not tally with the ever-increasing cost of living and they want enhanced packages ahead of the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England this July.
Queens’ game bonuses remain at K20 000 each for a win while their daily training allowance and external allowance stand at K2 000 and $50 (about K37 600), respectively.
“The cost of living has gone up over the years and it is high time authorities considered increasing our allowances. It is frustrating that we cannot progress financially as players despite sweating for our country,” said one of the senior national netball team players who asked for anonymity.
“It is an insult to get K20 000 for a win at a global tournament after beating big teams such as England, who get about 20 times that much for a win. This is a big demotivation, but we do not speak out in fear of reprisals. However, now it is too much. You [the media] should help fight our cause.”
The netballer said they have agreed to ask NAM to push for the review of their allowances with government.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Khungekile Matiya said the players’ concern is justifiable and they plan to present a proposal for a review to the government through the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS).
“This is really a genuine concern. It has been taken up with Sports Council before, but there has been no headway. I guess we can table it now. We will present our proposals to the council because even the training allowance is not enough,” she said.
Netball analyst Wesley Namasala believes there is no excuse for not adjusting the bonuses and the allowances upwards as most of the players earn a living through netball.
“In my opinion, the Queens should be getting at least K8 000 daily camping allowance, K80 000 game bonus for a win and $100 as external allowance. These girls render a service to the nation and have families to support. It is ridiculous to spend 30 days in camp and come back with K60 000,” he said.
However, Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development spokesperson Christina Mkutumula said the players are supposed to report their concerns to NAM, who in turn will report to the council and then to the ministry.
“So, in this case, players should ask NAM to present their request to the council,” she said.
However, it has now been seven years since the government, through former Sports minister Enock Chihana, promised a 50 percent increase on Queens’ bonuses and allowances.
Ironically, the national women and men’s football teams have also complained that their allowances are on the lower side and need to be adjusted.
The Flames and the women teams’ daily external allowance is also at $50 each, training allowance allocation is K1 000 but Football Association of Malawi (FAM) tops up the package with K2 000 and K5 000, respectively.
The Flames get K30 000 each as game bonus but FAM gives the men’s national football team an additional incentive of K70 000, making it a K100 000 bonus. Recently, FAM quadrupled the women team’s bonus from K15 000 to K60 000 following 11-1 and 3-0 triumphs over Mozambique in the respective two legs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers.
Nevertheless, women national football team captain Tabitha Chawinga and her men’s team counterpart John Lanjesi said their biggest concern is the stagnation of the $50 external allowance.
“We have been getting the same allowance since my first national team-call up in 2012. This is worrisome considering that most of my compatriots struggle to make ends meet,” Chawinga said.
On his part, Lanjesi said: “We do not have much problems with the bonuses and training allowances as FAM tops them up. However, the external allowance is the biggest setback as the minimum that our counterparts get is 10 times more than our package.”
MNCS acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said they will consider the concerns, “but the players should also understand that government has a huge responsibility”.
He said associations should also take an initiative to complement government’s support by at least rewarding the players with additional bonuses and allowances.
“Nevertheless, there is a reason for every amount paid. A bonus is a thank you and you do not demand a thank you,” he said.
“But that does not mean the money the teams get is enough. We know this concern has been there for a long time. We know the problem and we are more than willing, even before the players themselves, to look into that. Once agreements are made, something will come out of it.”