The Sunday Mail
ITS been roughly 17 years since Alice Mutema sat at the helm of Zimbabwe netball. And since relinquishing her crown in 2002, she has sat quietly on the terraces watching with a heavy heart as the sport first made positive steps in the right direction only to later shoot itself in the foot. A former assistant chief editor and newscaster at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and Star FM’s head of news, Mutema also served as the Zimbabwe Netball Association’s president between 1992 and 2002.
And now as the country nears its maiden appearance at the Netball World Cup finals slated for July 12-21 in the UK, the former Zimbabwe Netball Association president Alice Mutema has decided to voice her concern over the current spilt with the netball fraternity.
It is Mutema’s belief that unless an amicable solution is found soon, between Zina and the splinter group- the Rainbow Amateur Netball League, the country does not stand a chance of making an impact at the global tournament.
“I’m disappointed, very disappointed indeed. “Qualifying for the World Cup in itself was and still is a huge deal, but all that will be for naught unless the netball family puts its house in order and everyone moves in one direction,” she Mutema.
Mutema is no stranger to the feud between the national team manager Ledwin Dondo and current president Leticia Chipandu who both worked with during her tenure. And she reckons Dondo and Chipandu, who are both netball icons in the country, should lead the way in finding an amicable solution to the issue.
“These (Chipandu and Dondo) are the people that know the fight we embarked on to bring netball to where it is today.
“Back then, we had huge sponsorship challenges but because of the passion that we had, as a team, we went out of our way in search for the little money we could get our hands.
“We encountered a lot of challenges but as a team, we put our heads together and did what was in the best interest of the sport. “We were together with Chipandu and Dondo in all this, they know how to motivate, they know how to encourage and as such should be proactive in finding a solution to this impasse,” said the former Zina boss. Mutema believes the rift between Zimbabwe Netball Association (Zina) and Rainbow Amatuer Netball League (ZANL) is being driven by personal issues, none of which have anything to do with what is best for the sport. The two need to iron out their differences and Mutema believes the association should reach out first.
“If they cannot come together and find a solution, netball will surely die.
“Even if this splinter group continues to exist, it can never take the position of the Association because Zina represents the country. “Mothers do not disown their children, they sit ‘behind closed doors’ and iron out their differences.
“With all this chaos, corporates will never come on-board and sponsorship will remain a challenge.
“RANL wants to be in netball, and they need Zina and Zina needs RANL, at least for now,” she said.