Escom Sisters have kept a foothold on netball dominance in the Southern Region Netball League (SRNL) after winning the inaugural title of the K1 million Rainbow Paints Top Six Netball Series at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) on Saturday.
But it was a big surprise to the crowd at the event to note that the grand finale between the Sisters and Bingu Tigresses was never to be as the Amayi a Bingu boycotted the encounter.
The bone of contention was Sports Councilâ€™s refusal to release their key defenders Lauren Ngwira and Cathy Yikwenga from the Under-20 Zone V1 Games camp.
In an attempt to make up for the big upset in the eyes of the sponsors, the organisers arranged a makeshift final between the Sisters and MTL Queens. The Sisters carried the day with a 27-11 victory.
Queens were supposed to face Woget Stars in a third-place play-off.
Tigresses coach Charles Mhango argued that in the absence of Ngwira and Yikwenga, they had no defenders capable of winning them the trophy, so they suggested to play the final at a later date, a request which was not granted.
â€œWe pleaded with the organisers to reflect on our concern because this was a crucial match where both teams had to be strong. It was not on to feature players just for the sake of winding up the competition,â€ said Mhango.
SRNL chairperson Khungekile Matiya condemned Tigressesâ€™ move saying it would spoil their hard-earned Rainbow Paints sponsorship, which they obtained through the Sports Writers Association of Malawi (Swam).
However, Rainbow Paints commercial manager Bruno Silas, who was accompanied by Swam president Peter Kanjere, said they were impressed with how the competition has been handled and the prospects of coming with another sponsorship next year are high.
Escom Sisters received K200 000 and a trophy while MTL Queens got K100 000. Woget Stars overcame Glass Bank Sisters 25-20 to take home K75 000.