The excitement and tension were palpable over the weekend as volleyball teams from across the country converged to serve up some of Malawi’s most scintillating volleyball prowess.
The event threw off with a walk from the Blantyre Youth Centre to the venue of the games. From the walk it was time for action.
Women’s Group A pitted Kamuzu Barracks (Central Region (C) ) against Katoto Trickers (North (N) ), Gemz (South (S) ) and Poly Aces (S) while Group B had Moyale Barracks (N), Blazer (S), Blue Eagles (C) and DMI University (S).
It was Kamuzu Barracks (KB) who winged into the final after deflating women’s Raiply champions Moyale in three straight setsin the semis while Blue Eagles clawed past a spirited challenge from Gemz who were the only unsponsored side in the semis beating them 3-1.
The final was thus an all Lilongwe affair in which neither team was ready to give up without a fight as Eagles were made to fly to their highest peak from where they eventually defeated the soldiers 3-2.
Blue Eagles take on Gemz in the group stages
Vice captain for Eagles Orama Massa said beefing up their squad has helped them regain lost glory while KB felt they gave it their all but that it just wasn’t their day.
In the men’s category, Group A comprised Thunders (S), Lilongwe Spikers (C), Blue Eagles, Moyale Troopers and Balaka Police Eagles (S) while eventual champions Moyale Barracks, runners-up Mipuniro (C), Katoto Trickers (N), Cobbe Artillery (S) and Poly Troopers (S) battled it out in Group B.
Moyale winged into the semis after defeating Southern Region giants Thunders in three-straight sets while Mipuniro also registered a similar feat against Lilongwe Spikers. Thunders then vented their frustration at failing to making the final grade on home soil by inflicting their second successive victory over Lilongwe Spikers to claim bronze.
The final men’s game was a repeat of the group stage match in which Mipuniro had emerged 3-2 victors. But in the final match, Moyale had other ideas, they narrowly lost the first set but regrouped to narrowly take the second and the third games. With victory only a set away for Moyale, Mipuniro comfortably struck back to force the game into the deciding final set which went the way of the Mzuzu soldiers. It was no surprise that their spiker Johnson Msowoya was named the Most Valuable player.
Moyale attributed their win to discipline and their training in physical and mental endurance.
Although they lost in the finals, Mipuniro a team recently founded in 2015 by college students and recent graduates would definitely get the award for team of the competition, had there been one. For starters, the team was not supposed to participate but they were handed a lifeline after KB men were disqualified.
“As a team we are always working on improving ourselves….we made it to the finals because of team work and dedication. We believe that our tactics for each game worked well,” said coach-player for the side that is currently without sponsor Trust Mtegha.
The men’s champion travelled the 600km back to Mzuzu with MK600,000 (around US$ 800) plus a trophy whereas the Blue Eagles got a trophy and K500,000 while the third-placed and fourth-placed sides got K200,000 and K100,000, respectively.
In the ladies’ category, Blue Eagles got K500,000 the runner-up Kamuzu Barracksreceived K280,000, with the Moyale third-placed and fourth-placed Gemz sides pocketed K160,000 and K80,000, respectively.
In Malawi, ‘minor’ sporting discipline struggle to attract sponsorship, when they do it is considerable meagre. Volleyball teams in the Southern Region for instance do not have a sponsor, consequently most teams only play for the love of the game and their players are less likely to pursue a career in sports.