* To procure essential training needs of the Queens that include training uniforms, socks; warm jackets and others
* You know how much I love netball and especially the Queens — they make me literally dance with pride and joy whenever they win a game
* Our Queens Our Pride Trust was formed to raise awareness of the game and to fundraise for the Queens
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawian of goodwill, who created a trust under the name ‘Our Queens Our Pride Trust’, are on a serious fundraising campaign towards assisting the Malawian national netball team’s satisfactory participation of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July.
A flier created by the Trustees — led by one of the prominent female lawyer, Reena Purshotam — entices the general public to contribute generously in order to procure essential training needs of the Queens that include training uniforms, socks; warm jackets and others “for our hardworking ladies”.
“You know how much I love netball and especially the Queens,” Purshotam wrote on Facebook. They make me literally dance with pride and joy whenever they win a game.
“The budget allocated to them by Government is very limited. Please consider donating to this worthy cause.”
The public is encourage to send their contributions to Mpamba account no number 0884 828 500 (under name Vito) or Airtel Money 0999 955 721 (Felix), saying “every tambala will be accounted for”.
Purshotam said some time in 2015, a group of the Queens’ supporters formed a WhatsApp group to share news, games fixtures and to discuss games.
“The idea of forming a Trust was born when the fans realized that although the Queens always gave it their all, they were underfunded — which affected their preparations for their games.
“The Our Queens Our Pride Trust was formed to raise awareness of the game and to fundraise for the Queens.”
She indicated that they rolled out this fresh appeal on June 17 when they noticed during the just finished COSANA Tri-nations netball tournament — which the Queens won — that they did not have training uniforms, socks, warm jackets and other basic necessities.
“The ladies were receiving pitiful allowances of K5,000 per game. We thought that as fans, and as a nation, we can do better for the Queens who bring such great pride to our country and are currently now preparing for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.”
“We have been in touch with the Queens to better understand their needs and also with the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) to avoid duplication where NAM is able to supply some items.
“Our goal is not to replace NAM. It is to ensure that any gaps in funding are filled so that our Queens can focus on their training and feel proud that their nation is supportive of them.
“Our immediate fundraising priority is the upcoming Commonwealth Games which will take place in July, barely a month away. However, netball in Malawi is chronically underfunded.
“We rely on talent to win games which is very unfair to our hardworking Queens. We are therefore also fundraising for the Netball World Cup that will take place in 2023.
“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail! So we will continue to fundraise for the Queens for the foreseeable future,” she promised.
The campaign is being marketed by circulating flyers on social media, including WhatsApp groups and Facebook and the Trustees also approached mainstream media as well as reaching out to corporates and organizations directly through emails.
Malawi Queens adds so much glamour in their participation of international tournaments and so far has exported three players — Joyce Mvula and Towera Vinkhumbo in UK and the first Mwawi Kumwenda, who is in Australia.
On the commemoration of the International Women’s Day on March 8, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay made special mention of retired world netball players, that included Malawi’s icon Mary Waya.
In its report, the Queen’s Baton Relay said of Batonbearer Mary Waya that “despite being over 8,000km apart in distance and Joan Hunter, a Birmingham 2022 ‘hometown hero’ from Birmingham, they reflect each other’s passion for netball and community”.
“Former Team Malawi netball player Mary now dedicates her life to coaching young girls to offer them opportunities they may not otherwise have had,” the statement said.
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, late Griffin Zagallo Saenda — contributed towards making the Queens claim their rightful place on the international stage.
In September last year, Mary 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 chronicled 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 says, 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.