BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi national netball team, the Queens, have been dealt a blow following the absence of head coach Griffin Saenda at the 2018 Goldcoast 21st Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australia due to illness.
The award-winning coach has not made the trip to Goldcoast, Australia, according to Netball Association of Malawi (NAM).
Saenda also missed Fast5 World Netball Series last year due to illness. Coach Mary Waya led the team where the Queens lost all their matches to finish last at the tournament.
Saenda was in charge of the Commonwealth Games preparations, but in his absence, the Queens will be under assistant coach Whyte Mlilima.
Meanwhile, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila has challenged the Queens and athletes to defy the odds and win medals at the Games.
The minister said this during a send-off cocktail hosted by the Australian Government at Ryallas Hotel in Blantyre on Friday evening.
He reminded them that they are not going there on a sightseeing mission or for shopping, but national duty.
“We will be following your performances through our media. I have confidence in you, you can do it.
“[So], go and fight to win so that when you return, we will meet again, but this time to celebrate our success.
“What matters for you to win is the degree of preparedness and the level of confidence you have. To preserve our culture as Malawians, please always observe unity and discipline and a spirit of hardwork to make our country proud.” Kasaila said.
Australian Embassy second secretary Ananya Srivastava, who is based in Zimbabwe said her country is proud to host the Commonwealth Games and hosted the send-off party to wish Malawi team well.
“Malawi has a strong netball team and a lot of Malawians follow the Queens and they are likely to attract the attention of many in Goldcoast,” she said.
Queens captain Joana Kachilika said based on their preparations, she is confident that they will do well.
“The level of confidence and commitment was also inspiring during the preparations and, hopefully, we will take it to the Games,” she said.
Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) president Godfrey Phiri said he is 75 percent confident that one or more athletes will bring medals.
The Queens left for New Zealand yesterday for a four-day Taini Jamison Quad Series to be staged in Auckland from March 21-24 before proceeding to Australia while the athletes will depart on March 25.