Malawi minnows no longer

April 12, 2018

Mooroopna product Fiona Fowler in action for Scotland. The Thistles fell short of a Commonwealth Games finals berth after being beaten by Malawi, who also knocked New Zealand out of contention.

Who would have thought there would be something more engaging than an Australia versus New Zealand battle for Commonwealth Games gold in the netball?

A consistent game to please, the match-up between the Trans-Tasman sides has been the grand final make-up in each of the five Games of which netball has featured.

But suddenly a new contender not wearing green and gold has the nation cheering it on to progress as far as possible.

Humble Malawi has won just three medals across its entire history at the Games in every sport, with three bronze medals coming in the sport of boxing.

Never expected to progress further than the group stages, Malawi celebrated like it won gold after knocking off New Zealand.

But a 57-53 win against the Silver Ferns was not enough to satisfy the country on the Gold Coast.

A thrilling end to Malawi’s pool match against Scotland had even the coldest netball fans on the edge of their seat.

With Malawi two goals up, the Scots sensationally scored off a turnover, but could not convert another opportunity with the loss spelling the end of any chance to progress to the finals for the Thistles.

Mooroopna product Fiona Fowler finding a way forward to the finals with Scotland would have been enough of a fairytale given she participated in its first ever appearance at the Games in Glasgow four years ago.

But a Malawi team with the nickname the Queens had a title to live up to and has shown increasing signs it could become a major player in the netball scene.

Mwai Kumwenda as a pillar in attack has brought to the table what she shows for the Melbourne Vixens in Suncorp Super Netball.

With Australia, New Zealand, England and increasingly Jamaica the foursome that dominate international netball, the Queens garnered a win against South Africa in Glasgow.

But having a Malawian player win player of the series at the 2015 World Cup could well have been the country’s greatest netball highlight on the international stage up until now.

Australia seems to be a happy hunting ground for the country that surprisingly boasts a similar population, with 19 million in the African nation.

In Sydney at the World Cup, Malawi had an upset against Jamaica on the cards until going down by a goal.

In essence, this performance at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has been one that has been building in recent years.

But nonetheless it is one that took the world by storm anyway as Malawi will not be looked upon as an easy beat at next year’s World Cup in Liverpool.

Hopefully the people’s team takes to the courts of England as kindly as the ones in Australia.

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