BY STEVEN WYSON
NAM president Khungekile Matiya says she will use her new status as general secretary of Africa Netball Federation (ANF) to lobby other associations on the continent to formulate comprehensive player transfer system that can benefit African clubs.
This comes after Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) tried in vain during the recent Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England to present its concern to the International Netball Federation (INF) on the need for domestic league clubs to get transfer fees from foreign league clubs for their effort to nurture and develop talent.
Currently, INF rules and regulations are silent on the issue of player transfers as regards fees and procedures. in the circumstances, foreign clubs do not pay transfer or development fees to clubs that develop talent, leaving the players’ parent clubs with nowhere to go to claim compensation for their investment in player development.
Despite the number of Malawi professional netball players growing from one to four in the past eight years, the benefit that local clubs Kukoma Diamonds, Blue Eagles Sisters and First Choice Tigresses have so far acquired for exporting Mwawi Kumwenda, Joyce Mvula, Laureen Ngwira and Takondwa Lwazi to overseas leagues are three sets of uniforms and a few netballs.
Ironically, in domestic leagues, local clubs pay each other transfer fees when they sign players and NAM constitution stipulates that no player can be transferred to any team if the teams involved have not made an agreement.
In other disciplines such as football, domestic league clubs swim in millions of kwacha once their players strike deals with foreign league clubs.
But Matiya believes that if the continent’s netball associations fast-track the formulation of a comprehensive transfer system as well as a viable player recruitment policy as a bloc, they would effectively fight for the plight of African clubs.
“With me being within the continental body’s system, I will lobby other associations to unite and fight for the plight of our domestic clubs that invest a lot to develop talent,” said Matiya, who was elected ANF GS during an annual elective assembly in Cape Town South Africa three weeks ago.
According to her, INF rules have no price-tag on player transfers as previously the transfers were only done among well-to-do teams overseas and, to them, there was no problem.
“But now, the transfers involve players from developing countries such as Malawi, whose clubs struggle to develop players and it is painful to give out such talents for free,” she said.
Tigresses’ team manager Helene Mpinganjira-Tasosa has described Matiya’s idea as the best way to go to help local clubs benefit from their sweat.
“For instance, we started developing Laureen Ngwira years ago, she did not even know how to catch the ball and it required a lot of effort and resources to develop her. It is really painful that after all that investment, she ended up going to an overseas club for free,” she said.
“As Tigresses, we will rally behind NAM president on her initiative as that would motivate us to get even more serious in talent development.”
Blue Eagles Sisters chairperson Tadius Samveka said Matiya’s idea is a welcome initiative for development of netball in Malawi.
He said Malawi netball and Eagles in particular, has suffered from the practice by foreign league teams, who take players for free and simply provide materials as a consideration to the team.
“When a team releases a player, it needs to get a proper replacement so that performance is not affected,” Samveka said.
“So, the move will encourage teams to freely and wholeheartedly allow players to play in foreign leagues, knowing that the transfer fees will also provide resources for replacement.”
A few months ago, Diamonds former general secretary Chimwemwe Bakali said that the only benefit the team got since they exported Kumwenda to Australian side Peninsula Waves in 2011 was a netball uniform and at least 10 netballs.
Likewise, Samveka said after failing to strike a satisfactory compromise with English top-flight league side Manchester Thunder over the deal of star shooter Mvula almost two years ago, they just accepted to receive two sets of netball uniform and some netballs.