Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) is failing to access funding for the Africa Youth Championships scheduled for July 23-31 in Botswana after Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS ) refused to release funds unless NAM appoints a coach and has a squad in place.
Since January, NAM has been giving flimsy excuses on why it is delaying to appoint the Under-21 national team coach, who would in turn select players for the tournament.
It is now three weeks to the tournament yet NAM has neither appointed a coach nor selected the squad.
“We are in the process of finalising the selection of the technical panel. Soon the squad will be called into camp,” said NAM general secretary Carol Bapu yesterday for the umpteenth time.
As a result of the delay, there is also uncertainty over the team’s funding.
NAM proposed a K80 million budget which was trimmed to K55 million due to financial hiccups government is facing.
MNCS executive secretary George Jana yesterday said funding for the Junior Queens’ camp training is available, but they cannot release it to NAM until the squad is called .
“NAM told us that the team is already in place as the previous coach, the late Connis Mhone, identified the players before her demise few months ago. However, we need to see this squad on the ground before we can give them funding for camp training,” he said.
NAM’s shambolic preparations for the tournament has put Under-21 national netball team at risk of failing to qualify for the 2017 World Youth Netball Championship.
The Africa Youth Championship will see the top three out of the 10 participating teams qualifying for the 2017 World Youth Netball Championship.
Netball analyst Wesley Namasala described the delays to appoint a coach and assemble a squad as a big scandal.
He said: “From what I see, NAM is a disorganised entity; there is no way you hope to do well at such an international event when at this point a national coach is not yet known.
“Moreover, well-wishers cannot come in with financial assistance if they see nothing happening on the ground. With no team assembled, how can one estimate the costs for the team’s needs. To be honest, we are preparing to fail at the international event.”
Under-21 national netball team acts as a nursery for the Queens.
Malawi last appeared at the World Youth Netball Championships in 2009 in Cook’s Island when the current Queens’ stars such as Mwawi Kumwenda, Sindi Simtowe and Lauren Ngwira were identified. n