Sports in Malawi

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Sports in Malawi have been shaped by its history as a colony in the old British Empire, the most popular sports coming from Britain.

Football is the most popular sport in Malawi. It is played by boys at all levels from makeshift village playfields to prep school league competition. Malawi fields a national football team.

Netball has long been a popular sport for schoolgirls. Malawi is a full member of the International Federation of Netball Associations, and is currently ranked fifth internationally. The Malawi national netball team has put Malawi on the African map, qualifying for and coming first in regional tournaments such as the COSANA tournament. Malawi have competed at two Netball World Championships, and one Commonwealth Games. At the 2007 Netball World Championships, Malawi finished fifth beating strong teams such as Wales, Cooks Islands, and South Africa.

In post-colonial Malawi, other sports have been introduced into the schools. Volleyball and basketball have taken hold, principally through the efforts of Peace Corps Volunteers from the USA in the mid 1960s. The African Bible College has further contributed to the growth of basketball, by bringing professionals from USA to hold coaching clinics and also sending some of the best players to the USA.

Athletics and cross-country running have also been developing since Malawian independence. A pioneer in the systematic training of talented young runners is Dr. Harold Salmon, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Malawi from 1966-1968. From the year 2000, there has been an improvement in the quality of athletes, the most notable of whom is Catherine Chikwakwa, now based in Germany. There are other runners from the University of Malawi and the Army who have shown significant progress.

Smartex Tambala represented Malawi at the Olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain. He competed in the Marathon road race.

Cricket has started growing in Malawi. There is already the Malawi national cricket team and interest is growing at grass roots level.

Rugby union in Malawi is a minor sport, but has a long history.

Other sporting fields like tennis and squash have recently started gaining popularity, largely owing to the exposure that Malawians are getting to these sports through TV. The Squash team participated in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Korfball is a new initiative to Malawi and the mixed element of this sport shall bring new qualities into the Malawian sport communities.

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