Ntcheu residents had a rare Easter feast when MPICO Limited in conjunction with Central Region Netball Committee (CRNC) held a number of activities in the district to mark the official launch of the K25 million Gateway Netball Challenge Cup 2017 edition.
The activities started with a trophy parade from as far as Tsangano Trading Centre to Ntcheu Secondary School, where fans were entertained to the popular Ngoni dance if Ingoma before watching a netball match involving the cup's defending champions Blue Eagles Sisters and Ntcheu Select.
The defending champions, who were without their sharp shooter Joyce Mvula, now playing professional netball in England went on to win the match by 55 baskets against 9.
Apart from MPICO and CRNC officials, the launch drew some prominent netball personalities including Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) outgoing president Rosy Lonely Chinunda and her general secretary Carol Babu, national netball coach Griffin Sayenda, his assistant Samuel Kanyenda and Malawi's international Umpire White Mlilima.
Speaking during the launch, MPICO's operations and marketing manager Ellen Chapinduka Nyasulu hailed people of Ntcheu for gracing the launching ceremony in large numbers.
"We are humbled with the response by the people of Ntcheu and it is pleasing to hear that Ntcheu already has teams that are ready to compete in the tournament. We know there is a lot of talent in the districts and the purpose of extending the Gateway Netball Challenge to the districts is to expose the hidden talent and provide a nursery for the Queens," said Nyasulu.
Sports Council representative Isaac Phiri commended the sponsors for considering rural areas: "It is the wish of government to develop sports right from the grassroots but the government alone cannot manage to reach out to each and every corner of the country without the support of responsible corporate entities like MPICO," said Phiri.
Chinunda, a former student of Ntcheu Secondary School and CRNC chairperson Fanwell Katengeza were all thanks to the sponsors for tripling the sponsorship amount from K8 million to K25 million to carter for the districts.
Katengeza announced that the competition would throw off at district level on April 22, 2017 before culminating at regional level and the final phase.
He said top teams from the 10 central region districts would compete at regional level to identify four teams that will play against seeded sides Eagles Sisters, Civonets, Green Sisters and Mafco Soldiers during the last phase.
Prizes will be given out from the district level, said the CRNC boss.