After about a year of no sporting activities, netball is set to resume after the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) has been granted permission to resume training for the 2021 season.
Government suspended sporting activities last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but some sport codes including football engaged the Presidential Taskforce of COVID-19 for consideration and were given a node to start playing last year in November.
This time, the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) has extended the same call to netball with strict conditions of following the preventive measures including not having more than 50 people at the playing field.
“… you are therefore requested to communicate the same to teams in your region so that they start training in readiness for the start of the netball season. League sponsors in your region should be communicated of this development for proper planning and running of their sponsored leagues,” reads a letter from NAM vice general secretary, Brian Gausi to its regional chairpersons, and the coaches, and umpires associations.
Apart from the players and officials not exceeding 50 people per gathering, and observing social distancing, MNCS has also emphasised on the need to observe conditions which include; mandatory testing for players and officials in their respective districts, no access to the training field for people showing COVID-19 signs, limiting number of people entering the change rooms.
“No hugging and handshaking before, during and after matches. All training balls and technical equipment must be disinfected before and after use. No exchange of training kit such as bibs, uniform, towels. No sharing of drinking bottles.
"All personnel except the players when on field of play, should wear masks at all times. clubs to ensure every player and personnel has own drinking water. Clubs to provide hand sanitisers or water and soap for washing hands before and after training. Club members must observe mutual protection: Distancing, wearing a mask and gloves,” read some of the conditions.
The teams and players have also been encouraged to use outdoor sports facilities and complete separation of players from spectators, otherwise those not complying risk sanctions from NAM.
The absence of sporting activities like netball caused worries on some analysts who claimed the consequences would be heavy on players considering that the game is one of Malawi’s pride.
Southern Region has Rainbow Paints, and Bolt Salt leagues played in some districts, while Central Region has Mpico league.
Northern Region has just secured sponsorship after about 10 years without a league.