BY DRAXON MALOYA
Malawians who closely followed their netball team in this year’s Commonwealth Games staged in Birmingham, United Kingdom, say the team would have done better if the government and the corporate world had given them the much needed support.
These assertions come in the wake of the team’s dismal display leading to their maintaining of the 7th position in the world netball ranking after the Uganda national netball team, ‘She Cranes’ shattered the ‘Queens’ hope of finishing in the top six at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
One of the UK-based patriotic Malawians, who followed the Queens all the way from her base in Manchester to Birmingham, Fatima Sikwese said if the girls were adequately supported their world ranking would have improved.
“Honestly, the girls are just so good, but I feel like they lack motivation and sponsorship just like it is with football, and in how much they get paid and yet they are number seven (7) in the world but our government doesn’t recognise them as achievers,” said Sikwese.
In an interview with the Malawi Daily Telegraph, Sikwese expressed pride to be among a few Malawians waving the national flag throughout the Commonwealth Games mainly during netball matches.
“I was so proud raising our Malawian flag and the finest moment came when I heard the British asking to know more about Malawi, of which it never used to happen because many people here (in UK) seems not to know much about Malawi,” she said.
The Queens started their Commonwealth Games campaign poorly against England before they bounced back with a victory against Northern Ireland but failed to make the grade in matches against the New Zealand and Uganda .
Despite a string of dismal performances the Malawi National Netball Team mentor, Peace Chawinga Kalua hailed her charges for spirited performances mainly the game against New Zealand despite the loss.
It was a highly contested encounter as the Queens closely chased the world’s number two, the game ended 69-50 baskets to register Malawi’s second defeat at the Commonwealth Games.
“Injuries cost us but hopes for improvement are there, fixtures against Trinidad and Uganda gave us a ray of hope that we can do better than what we have achieved so far,” Chawinga said.
In other sporting disciplines at the same Commonwealth Games, Asimenye simwaka was the only Malawian athlete who had a chance to win at least a medal but that has also become another shuttered dream since she finished on 6th position.
Simwaka who is now Malawi Defence Force regular soldier displayed several impressive performances leading to her qualification for the semi-finals of the women’s 200m race and women’s 400m race respectively breaking the national record in both categories.
And also it was not rosy for the Malawi’s only boxer at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, Lewis Zakeyu who lost his quarter final welterweight bout to Loam Croft of Wales.
The referee had to stop the fight in the second round declaring a no contest after Zakeyu had received a lot of punches in the head.