On Thursday 10th August 2023, the British High Commissioner to Zambia, Mr. Nicholas Woolley visited…
Prior to this year’s eagerly anticipated Netball World Cup held in Cape Town South Africa our #VZ2023 volunteers Eloise Maraner and Telfer Gray discussed all things Zambian Netball with President Martha Sichone & Secretary Pritchard Ngoma.
This enabled them the opportunity to gain an insight into the structures and governance of netball from the facilitation of grassroots activities including Hub Sites all the way to national level competing teams.
“I really appreciated Pritchard and Martha taking time out of their busy schedules to share their appreciation of the groundwork our #VZ2023 volunteers are doing to progress the provision of netball within Lusaka. They helped us understand that by increasing sporting opportunities and developing coaches not only benefits players as athletes, that it can achieve so much more including helping children stay in school for as long as possible”.
The national team have recently travelled back from their inaugural participation in the PacificAus Sport Netball series held in Australia. Fellow African debutants Malawi and Kenya joined Zambia, Papa New Guinea, Tonga, Singapore, Fiji, and Samoa in the tournament held from the 24th of April to the 29th of April. Zambia would return homeward with silverware to show for their efforts coming 3rd while Tonga clinched their third Pacific Aus title defeating Malawi in the final.
Ranked 16th in the world and fifth best in Africa, the Zambian side now coached by Andreas Tembo the youngest Head Coach in World Netball narrowly missed out in qualifying to Zimbabwe who take Africa’s fourth spot in this years Netball World Cup. However, despite this, this year’s World Cup is Africa’s time to shine and the potential that this year’s event can have on growing participation at all levels across Africa and Zambia should not be underestimated.
Andreas is a prime example of progressing through the ranks as a coach and volunteer from the grassroots level. Originally a Netball Hubsite Coordinator at Chibolya one of Sport in Action’s netball hub sites in Lusaka, then becoming a National Netball Coordinator, before taking on the mantle as Head Coach of a world top 20 national team.
“Hub Sites is an initiative that allows athletes in the communities to grow. The past few years they have become really important in bringing back girls from schools to community teams. There is now around 500 – 600 athletes spread across just Lusaka because of the Hub Sites. Even the national team has up to 6 or 7 girls from the community hub sites, it really is a beautiful pathway”.
“The partnership with the Wallace Group and with coach education being sanctioned by Netball Zambia has helped improve the coaching of netball in communities. Now when athletes are progressing onto national level teams, they are ready to conquer.”
The development of netball Hub Site initiatives hasn’t just stayed in Lusaka too with funding being secured to roll out new Hub Sites across Zambia.
“With implementation through the Commonwealth Games Federation we applied for funding from the National Olympic Committee which we were successful in attaining funding. Now Hub Sites are being developed every day and we have some in Nakonde, Kabwe, Choma and Kaputa and several others across 10 other Zambian provinces. It is a positive for Netball Zambia to have talent across the country”
While discussing what other nations can learn from Netball Zambia, Martha and Pritchard were keen to highlight their governance structures.
“Having a structure like us, such as audited accounts. Good governance comes with trust and accountability. If you can exhibit accountability to stakeholders anyone will want to be part of your success stories”.
Pritchard Ngoma & Martha Sichone.
On a sport for development context the ability of the hub sites to improve educational outcomes has had many successes.
“We have seen a lot of girls getting back into schools due to increased interactions with others who attend school which persuades those out of school to either rejoin or begin education. The pathway model in place from community to elite level has led to 95% of girls in elite level being employed through netball”. Martha Sichone.
Ultimately this shows the power of sport in being able to inspire others and to create opportunities for development and Netball Zambia along with Sport in Action and the Wallace group are seeing clear progression in communities and beyond.
The Netball World Cup begins in Cape Town South Africa from the 28th of July to the 6th of August with African opponents Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda and South Africa hoping to progress out of their groups, as well as inspire sporting participation across Africa.