Sorry I have not posted for a while as time seems to pass so quickly here before you know it another week has gone and it seems my time is well filled – I am not sure what with!! This post is all about my exciting foray into Malawian netball. For those of you who know me well, my assignment to Malawi was obviously fate as the national sport here, after football (!!) is netball! Can you believe they actually provide half page reports on netball in the national newspapers😀I was sincerely hoping that during my six month assignment that I might somehow get involved in netball here but did not realise how open and welcoming people would be!
As is often the way in the ex pat community here, a friend of a friend knew James, a volley ball coach at the local ( well 2 hr drive requiring a weekend stay!) youth centre in Blantyre and he kindly invited me down to watch a few games at the South region netball league. I coincided this weekend spoiling myself in Blantyre booking into a nice lodge (hot showers and electricity were what I was looking forward to🚿💡) and treating myself to a spa session.
Fate was obviously against me on this occasion, as I booked into the lodge on Friday evening only to find they had a power cut and the generator was out of action so no lights and no shower either😧
Never mind I had a wonderful night and headed off to the youth centre at midday on Saturday for a full afternoon of what I thought would be watching league games! Blantyre youth centr, I found out, is the home of the Malawi National netball team and this league is one of the top netball leagues in Malawi so was looking forward to an afternoon of watching some great games. Soon after I arrived I was introduced to Annie the league secretary who, on finding out I was a qualified umpire, asked if I would umpire the next game. I was very nervous but was introduced to the other umpire Joseph and we started. OMG by the end of the first quarter I had a serious appreciation for the players, who were playing outdoors in temps in excess of 30C 🔥, no shade and the speed of the game didn’t help!
Still I survived and got back to my seat for a well earned rest only to find they wanted me to umpire the next 2 games as well! I apologetically cried off the next game but offered to umpire the last game of the day between Thunder Queens and Shizaella Queens (the former winning by 62 goals to 27)
I then met Christina (coach), manager and players of Thunder Queens who have a number of Malawi national players in the team and are looking for sponsorship and equipment support, so am tapping all my netball contacts in the UK!
I have also made contact with the local primary school here in Neno and have arranged to take some netball sessions. At my first session I found out they have no rule books, 1 whistle in the whole school (for all sports) no kit, no bibs and 1 ball! As you can see from the photo of the court, they play on a dirt surface (I tried not to look at the boulders dotted across the court) and wooden posts
. I have said I will help them purchase metal posts- hopefully with nets this time – and have got my home netball club in the UK searching out equipment and kit! I am also in the process of trying to get Thunder Queens to visit the school to help inspire the girls in sport. Everyone had agreed this is a great idea – I just need to sort the logistics of getting the players to Neno 😧
Well that is a bit about my additional volunteering here in Malawi and please if anyone feels that would like to purchase or donate any equipment or kit let me know!