By Mphatso Malidadi:
Sports Minister Grace Chiumia was unusually blunt on Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) for its treatment of Malawi national netball team star Mwawi Kumwenda during the Presidential Cup finals at Blantyre Youth Centre on Saturday.
Chiumia was obviously not amused with Nam for failing to recognise the presence of Mwawi at the three-day national finals.
The minister said it was sad that there was resistance when she wanted the Australia-based top shooter to speak during the competition’s prize presentation ceremony.
“There was some sort of resistance but I made the decision that she should speak because she is our player who is putting the country on the map. I had to use my powers for Mwawi to be given the podium to inspire up-and-coming netballers.
“I know that some players are being oppressed as they are not given a chance at the national team. We need to stop favouring players and officials. We need to give all players and officials equal chances. There is too much politics at Nam and Malawi National Council of Sports,” Chiumia said.
She described Mwawi as a role model in the country’s sports sector who needed to speak at the event to inspire her fellow players.
Chiumia pointed out that time was ripe to get rid of politics in the game following reports of injustice in player selection, saying Nam needed to be cleaned up.
She, therefore, called on sports administrators in the country to get rid of political elements in their ranks or simply resign.
But Nam president, Khungekile Matiya, downplayed Chiumia’s sentiments, saying the association was operating professionally.
“As for Mwawi, she is our player and we are proud of her. Everyone looks up to her because of what she has achieved in the game.
“We all know that she has not featured for our national team since the Commonwealth Games because of the injury she sustained while playing for her club in Australia. But we are hopeful that she will bounce back from injury soon to continue playing for the Queens,” Matiya said.
She insisted that her administration does not entertain politics in netball and works with all stakeholders without segregation.
Commenting on the tournament, both Chiumia and Matiya paid tribute to the teams and players for outstanding performance with the minister describing the final as being of international standards.
Kukoma Diamonds and Blue Eagles met in the final, with the former winning 38-35.
Diamonds pocketed K4 million for lifting the trophy which Eagles failed to defend after winning it in Mzuzu last year.
The Lilongwe-based Malawi Police Service side got K2 million for their second place finish, with Tigresses receiving K1 million for winning the third place play-off match against Civonets.
The civil servants pocketed K800,000 for finishing on position four.
In individual awards category, Jessie Kamwendo of Thunder Queens was named Best Shooter whereas Lusungu Muyaba of Mimosa Queens won the Best Centre accolade.
Civonets’ Beauty Nyangulu was named best defender. Molly Chisambiro of Blue Eagles was named Player of the Tournament with Titus Wankhama being named the Best Umpire.