By Mc Noel Kasinja
Whyte Mlilima, Malawi National netball team assistant coach has bemoaned delays to start preparations for the Africa Netball Championship to be held in South Africa from October 16 to 20.
Three weeks before the continental netball showcase, Mlilima said the technical panel has no idea when the team will regroup.
Mlilima, who was mostly in charge of the team at the Netball World Cup in England due to head coach Griffin Saenda’s ill health, said the development will affect the team’s campaign for the world top-six ranking.
The Queens moved two places up from ninth to seventh on the International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings after their spirited performance at the Netball World Cup.
The Africa Netball Championship provides Malawi an opportunity to fight for the top-six ranking, a prerequisite for automatic qualification into prestigious events such as the Netball World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and the Fast5 Netball World Series.
“It could have been better had we started the preparations much earlier as we did with our tune-ups ahead of the recent World Cup,” Mlilima said.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu asked for more time when The Nation tried to find out why the team was delaying the preparations.
“I would be able to answer such questions this Saturday [tomorrow]. Just be patient,” she said.
Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) acting executive secretary Henry Mereka yesterday said they would not comment on the matter until NAM officially makes a public disclosure of their preparations.
But director of sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Jameson Ndalama said government was ready to release funds for the Queens.
Netball analyst Wesley Namasala said thorough preparations are a must as the continental championship is an excellent opportunity for the Queens to earn points and rise on INF rankings.
“I would have loved if the Queens were in camp now. If we do not dislodge Uganda on number six position, we will miss out on the next Fast5 Series and other prestigious competitions,” he said.
“One Benjamin Franklin once stated that by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. I cannot agree more with that as regards what is happening with the Queens.”