The new top-flight netball season throws off tomorrow with the 2021 Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League (BDNL) at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) after a year and a half of absence due to Covid-19.
However, there are mixed reactions on whether the new season will be competitive, considering that players are coming from a long break and most teams are financially crippled due to scarcity of sponsors.
Said BDNL champions Kukoma Diamonds Lumbani Mtonyo, chairperson: “It is going to be tough for us considering that our players are coming from a long break. However, we are not afraid; we will fight and we still have the fighting spirit. We believe in ourselves and we trust in God.”
However, she was hopeful that her team, which takes on Prison Sisters in the league opener, will not suffer serious financial struggles along the way as they negotiate for continued sponsorship with Capital Oil Refining Industries (Cori).
Their rivals First Choice Tigresses, who will be up against Legends tomorrow, said they are more than ready for the showdown.
“We have been looking forward to this moment when we are expected to prove that we are a sponsored team,” said Tigresses team manager Helen Mpinganjira-Tasosa.
Unsponsored teams such as Thunder Queens, Serenity Stars and Chilomoni Sisters believe that the league might be less competitive at the start, but will improve in the long run.
Said Thunder Queens captain and assistant coach Joana Kachilika: “For us, it has always been a struggle; most of our players have been going to and from our training sessions on foot for the past two weeks due to lack of transport. It will not be easy to pick up form. However, with the hunger and passion we have for netball, we will try our best to do well.”
Rainbow Paints representative Jangale Chiosa yesterday said they are ready to bankroll the league, but could not disclose if the sponsorship will be increased from K7 million.
“We will announce the sponsorship package on Saturday,” she said.
According to BDNL general secretary Annie Hanjahanja-Billie, the league will throw off with an encounter between Gerald Tasaukadala Sisters and Chilomoni Sisters at 10am before a tussle involving Thunder Queens and Serenity.
“Diamonds and Prison will lock horns at 1pm while Tigresses will take on Legends at 3pm,” she said.