An attempt to include women sports in the festive sports calendar by the Mkhondo Sports Council did not go according to the sports body’s plans when only two (2) netball teams arrived to take part in the Mkhondo Festive Cup. The developmental tournament for netball was set to play on Monday 17 December 2018 at Thokozani Playing Courts, Thandukukhanya.
The no-show of teams led to the games postponement. Miss Phindile Malinga of PR Wanderers NC which recently formed cried of missing players due to the holiday season. “Our kids are away on holiday. We only have three (3) players that are not even strong enough to compete in a tournment. We will be happy if the games are postponed to next year when schools open,” she said. The other team Pink Cavs also came with a skeleton team of only three (3) players. The team was started by Miss Phiwokuhle Dlamini but has since suffered after she got an internship job in Ermelo, Msukaligwa Local Municipality about 100km from Mkhondo.
The only teams that arrived ready to play was the Eaglets coached by Mr Mlipha and the Super Falcons coached by Mr Mabuyakhulu. Other teams that arrived had two or three players available with the rest of the players not available because of holidays. The two teams ended up playing a friendly match. The Mkhondo Sports Council chairperson Mr Ntokozo Simelane asked the teams to postpone the games and set another day for the tournament.
“It will be unfair to give out the prizes for only two (2) teams. The Mkhondo Netball Federation should have made sure teams arrived to play instead of coming with excuses”
The two teams tried to force the Mkhondo Sports Council chairperson Mr Ntokozo Simelane to release the prizes but he refused. He said little was being done to develop and promote the sport by the available teams in Mkhondo. “It will be unfair to give out the prizes for only two (2) teams when Mkhondo is so big. The Mkhondo Netball Federation should have made sure teams arrived to play instead of coming with excuses. The secretary of the federation is here with his team but the teams he supposedly leads are nowhere to be found.” The prizes included a netball kit, trophy, gold/silver/bronze medals, match balls and training bibs. The chairperson gave each team a match ball as token of appreciation for existing and attending the tournament. He appealed to Netball teams based in Mkhondo to organise themselves to revive the sport and organise a tournament in February 2019 that will include everyone based in the Mkhondo Local Municipality jurisdiction.
A brief discussion about the next day of the tournament was held with the teams’ representatives to come up with a new date. In the meeting there was a Super Falcons represented by Mr Mabuyakhulu, Miss Phindile Malinga of PR Wanderers, Mr Mlipha of Eaglets, Mr Sabelo Nkosi who coaches under 13s at Inqobile Primary School and Mr Ntokozo Simelane. They decided to conduct a meeting of teams in the 2nd week of February 2019 where they will come up with the new tournament date. We asked Mr Mabuyakhulu about the status of teams in the Mkhondo Local Municipality, we discovered that the Mkhondo Netball Federation had no active members as had been previously thought. “Most of the teams I called complained of transport, others promised to come but are not here. I have been working all alone because other people are always busy,” he said.
Netball was once toe to toe with football in terms of participation in the early nineties when football clubs used to also have Netball teams. The sport has suffered greatly in recent times mainly due to lack of coaches and playing facilities. In Mkhondo there are only three (3) or four (4) dedicated people dedicated to Netball and they are all males. People who come to mind are the regulars Mr Mabuyakhulu, Mr Mlipha, Mr Sabelo Nkosi and Mr Sipho Nkosi based in KwaThandeka, Amsterdam. The Mkhondo Sports Council has a huge task of reviving the sport.