Our netball star, Mwawi Kumwenda, Malawi first and only netball professional player and the first African to ply her trade in New Zealand and Australia, has been engaged by telecommunications service provider Airtel as its brand ambassador.
This is really good development for Mwawi as she takes the role model for our youths to emulate that hard work, perseverance and positive dreams can reap rewards.
It is not a mean achievement because she replaces a world class athlete in the name of Yaya Toure, the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner with Cote d’Ivoire, who is a high profile player in Europe — plying his trade with English Premier League’s Manchester City.
This is good for more exposure of Malawi netball. The Queens are a glamorous team in world netball, yes, but by having Mwawi on billboards our exposure will grow from strength to strength.
The Queens have been excluded from a tournament that has just been introduced and involves England, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. The tournament has been sanctioned by world netball governing body.
Many people argued that the Queens were excluded because of losing to South Africa in recent times but I differ. It is because the tournament will be played in all the four countries.
I am quite sure the Queens failed to meet this criteria because where would we have hosted such an event. The game might be an excellent replacement of the traditional sport of football in as far as international exposure is concerned, but it does not have the right infrastructure.
The sport is still being played on hard asphalt and open courts where, when it rains, games are stopped and when the rains stop, the players themselves are involved in clearing the rain water from the court.
Would you expect England, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and other countries to accept that?
Mwawi was roped in in Airtel’s campaign to inspire the potential youths to live their dreams and to underline the power of the various potentials the youths have.
Football is by far the most glamorous sport and most of the corporate world use its players marketing ambassadors — thus Airtel’s use of Yaya Toure in the first phase of ‘It’s Now’ campaign.
Airtel then went back to its drawing board and thought of using another sport and it could have used any other but I am quite sure netball came in because it’s a sport that has the potential of being recognised as an Olympic sport because there is a strong campaign for it to be acknowledged as such.
Well, then, if netball is such a glamorous sport, why are we as a nation lagging behind in giving it the infrastructure it needs so that we can be hosting high profile teams such as New Zealand, Australia, England, Jamaica and the others.
It’s easy to consider South Africa first because they have such state-of-the-art facilities. A country can built three or more state-of-the-art netball facilities at the cost of what was used for the new stadium in Lilongwe.
So before we consider of building another football stadium, which is rumoured to be considered, perhaps the powers that be might consider giving netball the right infrastructure it so badly needs.
Until we did this for netball, it will continue to fail to break into the top three status. If the sport was given the right infrastructure, more players of Mwawi’s tenaciousness can be attracted to play the sport and thereby strengthen the Queens.
That’s food for thought for all those potential sponsors who might be thinking of supporting netball.