* To be assisted by Namibian Antoinne Wentworth alongside Zimbabwean Lloyd Makunde
* We just need to do one or two things on tactical and technical
* We also need to increase the intensity of the players as well as their strength
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi’s netball legend, Mary Waya has been appointed as coach for Namibia national team and is set to inspire the squad to qualify for 2023 Netball World Cup to be hosted by South Africa.
And she has already hit the ground running as she is reported to have had her first training session with the team on Saturday at Windhoek Gymnasium where she told Namibian online publication, New Era Sport that she was impressed with the squad.
New Era Sport reported that the former Malawi national team goal shooter — who replaced coach Sunette Burden — will be assisted by Antoinne Wentworth, alongside Zimbabwean Lloyd Makunde.
In the interview with the online, Waya is quoted to have said there are a few tactical issues that she and her technical team would thoroughly need to work on ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup qualifiers.
“The team is good,” she is quoted as saying. “We just need to do one or two things on tactical and technical, and we also need to increase the intensity of the players as well as their strength.”
In terms of her long-term plans for the team, Waya told the online that she plans to successfully qualify Namibia for the prestigious competition, saying: “We know that on our way to the long-term goal, we have a competition, which is just in front of us.
“We are climbing this mountain and go on the other side of the mountain. Because we are climbing the mountain, we can face a lot of difficulties, but those challenges are not going to be that hard because it’s our challenges, and we will build on them, which will be based on attacking and defending,” she is quoted as saying.
In terms of knowledge of the players, Waya said she had seen some players at the recent competition in Malawi in June this year as well as the M1 games in Singapore in 2019.
“I know their strengths and weaknesses. I know them from the Pent Series and the Singapore competition, where the Desert Jewels won the M1 Nations Cup,” she is quoted as saying.
The Malawi netball legend — who has competed in two World Netball Championships (1995 and 2007), three Commonwealth Games (1998, 2006 and 2010) and two World Netball Series (2009 and 2010) — was mentioned in same breath as other renowned world netballers in celebration of International Women’s Day in March.
The recognition came from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay, that made reference to England’s top player Joan Hunter, saying “despite being over 8,000km apart in distance the two reflect each other’s passion for netball and community”.
Queen’s Baton Relay organisers acknowledged that Waya “dedicates her life to coaching young girls to offer them opportunities they may not otherwise have had”, saying the Birmingham 2022 — “the first multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men — is celebrating and exploring the common ground between five female Batonbearers from across the Commonwealth, and five inspiring women from Birmingham 2022’s host country, England.”
Mary Waya led the 16th Queen’s Baton Relay during its tour past Malawi from Tanzania in November which set off in Birmingham the previous month on an epic journey across the Commonwealth’s 72 nations and territories, reaching Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.
Other Batonbearer that were made special mention by the Birmingham Torch Relay were Faith Ogallo from Kenya, Joanna Leigh a former Team England hockey player, Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala from Sri Lanka and Naseem Akhtar BEM.
Mary Waya, and a host of other iconic netball figures such as her sister Emmie Waya Chongwe, Peace Chawinga-Kalua, Connis Mhone, Linda Magombo and a lot more others — including their iconic coach Griffin Zagallo Saenda — contributed towards making Malawi Queens a glamorous world netball team.
In September last year, Waya was appointed as World Netball’s official Heart Ambassador, representing the sport’s world governing body’s rebranding value of ‘Heart’.
Formerly named International Netball Federation (INF), the body officially rebranded to World Netball and the Heart value represents a commitment to fostering friendship and respect through a shared love of netball.
According to World Netball’s website, Waya had been honoured taking cognizance that she started playing international netball for Malawi at the tender age of 14 and has since become the nation’s most high-profile player having played in more than 200 international matches.
World Netball chronicles that the more than 200 international matches that Waya has played include competing in two World Netball Series, three Commonwealth Games and two Netball World Cups. It also included the 2007 World Netball Championships where the Queens finished 5th, their highest ever placing.
World Netball also recognised Waya as being one of pioneer of the Queens’ rise on the international scene and that in addition to being an international netballer, she is also the international coach for the Tanzania national netball team.
Off the court, the website took cognizance that Waya has become a role model to millions of women around the world and in Malawi through her ‘Mary Waya Foundation’ — a non-profit sports academy that aims to empower local Africa women through sport.
Through the Foundation, the Malawi legend — nicknamed ‘aChair’ — has created opportunities for young women and girls to develop and form lasting friendships through the sport of netball.
The Foundation supports players by developing them as future netballers by improving their skills and assisting with education.
World Netball quoted its president Liz Nicholl, CBE was quoted as saying: “Mary is a role model for millions in Africa through her legacy as an international netballer, coach, and entrepreneur.
“Her vision to inspire and motivate young women and girls to become confident women through her Foundation demonstrates why Mary is the perfect ambassador to represent our ‘Heart’ value.
“By educating others, providing opportunities, and showcasing the power of sport, Mary is using her experience and life lessons to give back to the community.
“Her commitment is incredibly impressive and I look forward to working with Mary to grow, play and inspire others around the world through netball,” Nicholl was quoted as saying.