Singing, dancing and rolling on the floor are not necessarily what you
would expect to see at an international sporting event, but prepare to be
surprised this spring, when England's netballers face the Malawi Queens in
a three match test series in April. The matches are to be played in
Sheffield (14 April), Coventry (16 April) and London Wembley (18 April)
and tickets go on sale today(11 January 2008).
Picture shows England's Ama Agbeze contesting with Malawi's Mary Waya at
last November's Netball World Championships (please credit Michael
Malawi was the surprise package of the recent New World Netball World
Championships in New Zealand: after missing the World Championships in
2003, the Malawi team dazzled opponents with their lightning-quick play
and audacious moves, and took fifth place overall, defeating long-time
rivals South Africa in a memorable play off. And with England placing
fourth at the same competition, the stage is set for some eyecatching
netball for home fans to enjoy:
"Malawi plays a very different style of netball," explains Nigel Holl,
England Netball's Director of Netball, "with a lot of short sharp passes,
cheeky moves and rapid footwork. They are afraid of no one, and will pose
some interesting questions for the England squad, at the start of a new
four year cycle of international competition, under new coach Sue Hawkins.
"Spectators at these test matches should expect some very different play,
with plenty of excitement and thrills - and watch out for some unusual
moves, particularly in the circle areas!
"When the two sides met at the World Championships, England's team emerged
victorious. However, by the end of the competition, it was clear that
Malawi had made rapid and impressive progress, as shown by their win over
South Africa, and this will be no easy test series for the new England
Netball is the most popular sport for women in Malawi, and players like
captain Peace Chawimba and the inspirational 38 year old GA Mary Waya are
role models for women and girls across their country, delivering health
and education messages as well as playing netball. Malawi's netball team
has had a huge impact on the world stage, since attending its first
Commonwealth Games in 2006, where the side stopped champions New Zealand
in their tracks with a 67 pass sequence to deny the opposition possession.
Meanwhile, the Malawian side's win over rivals South Africa at last year's
World Championships prompted a traditional method of celebration - rolling
on the floor at the final whistle!
Tickets are now available for the three matches as follows:
14 April Sheffield Arena and 16 April Skydome Arena Coventry:
Priced £17 adults (England Netball members £14), children £9, family
Groups - buy eight tickets, receive one free
18 April: Wembley Arena
Priced £19 adults (England Netball members £16), children £10, family
from the venue box offices.