At long last! First Choice Tigresses were yesterday crowned champions of the Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League (BDNL) for the first time in five years at the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
“It feels great that finally, we have lifted the league title after years of searching. We are happy that this has come after we secured sponsorship from Lilongwe Dairy Limited. This is a proof that we were failing to win it due to lack of resources,” said Tigresses coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa.
On his part, Diamonds coach Noel Mussa attributed their failure to defend the title to the loss of key players such as Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda and Alinafe Kamwala to other teams and the death of their mentor the late Griffin Saenda.
“We failed to perform to our expectation because we had some gaps in our team. Nevertheless, we are doing our best to strengthen the side for future glory,” he said.
However, the ceremony was deprived of the much anticipated glamour after the match between Tigresses and runners-up Kukoma Diamonds was called off five minutes into the game because the court was slippery following rains.
Captains of the two sides Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira and Beatrice Mpinganjira agreed that the weather condition was not good enough to proceed with the game on the open netball court and the fact that the match was a dead rubber made the cancellation easy. At the time, Tigresses were leading 3-2.
Prior to the match, Tigresses had already won the league title with a game in hand. However they were keen to beat their rivals to wind-up the season with a100 percent winning record.
Tigresses were unbeaten in 19 games and were already at the summit of the 11-team log-table with 38 points, two points ahead of the Diamonds.
Had they lost the last encounter, Tigresses could still remain on top as they had created an insurmountable 152 basket-difference.
The champions received K1.2 million while the runners-up got K700 000. Third-placed Imosys (formerly Thunder Queens) got K350 000 while fourth-positioned Prison Sisters got K300 000.
In individual awards, Polytechnic Sisters’ Alinafe Chiwaya and Mayamiko Phiri were named the best shooter and the best coach, respectively. The best defender accolade went to Diamonds’ Linda Mvula as Tigresses’ Flora Chipeta won the best centre accolade. Shizaella Queens’ Florence Gamuga was the most improved player while Eletina Kachingwe was the best umpire.
In the media awards, Nation Publications Limited’s (NPL) Solomon Manda was the best in print category while MIJ FM’s Mwakhele Kaliande and Ufulu FM’s Foster Mkwamba were the best in radio. Victor Singano of Nyasa Times and Chisomo Ngulube of Kulinji.com did it in online section. Yasin Limu of TV Islam was the best in television.
Rainbow Paints Limited sales manager Jangale Chiosa said his company will come back with another sponsorship.