By Trust Mtegha
Snipers Volleyball Club, established in 2010 as CFC (Calvary Family Church), have clocked 10 years and the future looks bright for the team on the court.
The initial idea in the formation of the team was meant as a pastime for the church’s youth group until in 2012 when the name changed to Snipers because after joining Central Region Volleyball League (CRVL) in 2011 there was the hunger to be competitive.
The coming in of non-church members in the team were the major factors that necessitated the change as the Church could no longer afford to support the team following the new dimension of joining CRVL.
The members, whose notable pioneers Fred Gonela and Peter Daka (now with Mchinji Trickers) then agreed to proceed to the new challenge and named themselves Snipers Volleyball Club.
Since its establishment, Snipers has neither won a medal in all of the competitions they have participated in nor qualified for a national tournament save after 10 years for 23rd Century Systems Limited CRVL 2019 season and the 2020 Raiply National Championship.
The team broke the record by winning bronze medal in a tight race for the title with other two teams, Bunda Dragons and Eagles.
A loss to Dragons by Eagles in a second-round match took them out of the race, leaving the battle to Snipers and Dragons for the last match in the eight-member Category A men of the 2019 season.
That was determining match for bronze medal and a 3-2 victory over Dragons took Snipers to their first-ever medal (bronze) ever and eventually qualifying for the 2020 Raiply National Tournament as per CRVL 2016 regulations.
They qualified alongside gold medalists Kamuzu Barracks and silver medalists Lilongwe Spikers.
Snipers’ coach/player, Thomas Chatepa attributed the achievement to proper teamwork among the members and is anticipating for more better days.
“It is a great achievement for the team and we want to stay within the medals zone in the league,” he said. “We are rookies but not underdogs for the Raiply National Championship and we intend to leave a mark that tournament,” Chatepa said.
One of the seasoned national coaches, who has been at the competition both as a player and a coach, Paul ‘Egyptian’ Malange, while downplaying Snipers competitiveness at the Raiply National Championship, was quick to tip them for good results.
Malange has two gold medals on his neck for the tournament with Lilongwe Spikers.
“Raiply National Championship is the higher level of the country’s volleyball and teams need to prepare adequately,” he said.
“The tournament is played within a period of three days, consecutively. Therefore, a team need to be mentally and physically fit.
“I have noted some lack of fitness in Snipers. They also need to approach games tactfully.
“They should engage a well trained coach to assist them in preparation,” he said.
One of the major challenges that teams face and subsequently fail to participate especially for national tournaments, is raising enough funds to cater for the basic necessities such as transport, food and accommodation for travelling teams.
Many volleyball teams in Malawi do not have reliable sponsorship and depends on members/players financial contributions.
Having almost six months to October when the championship is scheduled, Chatepa said Snipers should be very much aware of such challenges and are expected to be saving the funds now and have good preparation on logistics.
“We are going to try to get prepared in time and the period we have to the competition is enough. We will start logistical preparations in time and we will not fail to participate on logistical grounds,” Chatepa assured.
Raiply National Championship, whose defending champions are Moyale Barracks, is the most prestigious competition in Malawi organized by Volleyball Association of Malawi (VAM) and sponsored by Raiply Limited, the leading manufacturers and exporters of wood products, based in Chikangawa Forest in Mzimba District.
Their products include medium density fiber (MDF) boards, plywood boards, block boards, shutter ply, shutter boards, flush doors, cornice, T&G, treated timber and many more