By Elizabeth Mandala & Arkangel Tembo
There was drama at Blantyre Youth Centre on Sunday in the Rainbow Paints Blantyre District Netball League when Kukoma Diamonds were awarded maximum points despite Tigresses being available at the venue.
The bone of contention centred on Tigresses goalkeeper, Lauren Ngwira.
Diamonds protested before the match that Ngwira was not eligible to play for Tigresses because there was no clearance letter from her England club.
Ngwira came back home after her six-month contract with England Super League side Team Northumbria expired and she was ready to play for her former club on Sunday.
When the two teams were already in the field of play set for the match, spectators were surprised to see umpires summoning captains of both sides.
After close to 30 minutes, the match had not kicked-off and instead there were meetings around the place from Blantyre District Netball League officials to Tigresses and Diamonds.
Diamonds were hesitant to play, demanding for Ngwira’s clearance from Northumbria while on the other side Tigresses insisted the towering netballer was eligible to play.
Tigresses Coach, Peace Kaluwa Chawinga told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that they were surprised that the points were awarded to Diamonds yet both teams were in the courtyard trying to resolve the matter.
“Lauren is a Tigresses player and we never cleared her for any club. In fact, she has a running contract with us, so who cleared her?” quizzed Kaluwa, wondering why Diamonds didn’t play under protest so that if Tigresses were found guilty they would be awarded the points.
Kaluwa also wondered why Blantyre and Netball League officials made a haste decision of awarding points before hearing from both sides.
“Does a committee just award points without a hearing? There were only two people present from their committee and on what grounds did they award such points. Is it a one-man decision?” she queried.
Kaluwa cited an example of Diamonds goal shooter, Alinafe Kamwala who was in Tanzania but was featured on Sunday as well.
“Why didn’t we ask them to produce a clearance letter from Alinafe who was in Tanzania? We feel this is very unfair,” Kaluwa charged.
However, Kukoma Diamonds Head Coach, Griffin Saenda said they demanded a clearance letter from Ngwira because they were also penalized way back when Mwawi Kumwenda was found in a similar predicament.
Blantyre District Netball League Chairperson, Judith Chalusa said they would wait for a report before coming up with the verdict.-Mana