They are still, by kilometres, the most successful Malawi sports national team ranked number one in Africa and fifth in the world. But if plain truth be told, the Malawi Queens are barely clinging onto their crown as the jewel of domestic sports.
Finishing the year with eight straight defeats in competitive games sounds like a misquotation plucked from a scene of the Flames dismal script.
Last week, Malawi lost two straight matches during test series in England to continue from where they left at the November Fast5 Series in New Zealand—-which is ironically the home for star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda.
Well, with Mwawi staging a one-band boycott from national team games after styling herself as a freedom fighter for her oppressed and voiceless fellow players, the Queens were not going to have a sniff of glory in England, let alone in New Zealand.
In Mwawi’s absence, Mary Waya played her cards around shooter Sindi Simtowe with Lorraine Ngwira providing the supporting act. However, neither Ngwira nor Simtowe for their hard-work can atone for the absence of one of the world netball’s best shooters.
Not when Malawi is up against top netball nations of England, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia and even South Africa. The last time, the Queens beat the Spar Proteas (RSA) was in June at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
It was revenge against the South Africans who had defeated Malawi at home to snatch the African Netball Championship at the Blantyre Youth Centre. In that competition, the game that Malawi lost was unfortunately to the South Africans.
Guess what, Mwawi was not part of the squad due to club commitment in New Zealand were she plays for Tactix.
In 2012, the Queens won the African Championship in Tanzania even without Mwawi because South Africa opted against travelling to Dar es Salaam preferring test matches in Scotland. Therefore, the current winless run stretching from New Zealand confirms what most already know.
Unfortunately, even with a public outcry that Mwawi be taken seriously on the players’ grievances and resolve the stand-off over unpaid bonuses, the Netball Association of Malawi under the leadership of Rosy Chinunda is having none of it.
Not even Youth Development and Sports Minister Grace Chiumia’s intervention seem to work. While Mwawi loses little as she earns her money in New Zealand, it is Malawi as a country that is being sacrificed due to NAM and Mwawi’s clash of egos. n