Malawian hockey champions Genetrix won two of their five games to come fifth from the six-team invitational international tournament hosted by Zambia Hockey Association (ZHA) from Friday to Sunday (August 19-21) in Lusaka.
According to the team’s spokesman Chigomezgo Thindwa, the games started on Friday and they won their first game one-nil against the hosts’ side Springfield before losing 2-5 their second game later that afternoon against Zimbabwean side Hippo.
On the second day, Saturday, Genetrix beat another Zambia side Lusaka Sharks, again 1-0 in their third game.
Come Sunday, Thindwa said poor umpiring in the last two games cost them to lose both their last games — against Hotspurs 2-4- and DE Stars 1-3, both from Zambia.
“But our level of play was very good and even our fitness has greatly improved,” Thindwa said. “We finished 5th out of the six teams in the tournament. The champions Hippo from Zimbabwe successfully defended their trophy.
“We are glad we were able to achieve our aim of strength-testing ourselves against our regional competitors. Last year we lost all our games and came last in this same tournament, so things have definitely improved.
“This was a very important tournament for us to really see how we are faring comparatively as we prepare for the ACCC in December this year. Our players really stepped up to the challenge and we are really proud of their effort.
“For some, it was their first international tournament on astro turf, so the experience was very worthwhile.”
He said the trip was mostly self funded by the players and the club’s executive committee “but Genetrix would not have been able to make this trip without the timely support it got from Energem with fuel as well as Riaz Lambat of Quarry Kings and Sports Council with transport”.
“Kips also sponsored meals for the whole team for the long road journey [to Lusaka via Chipata border].”
Genetrix, the first all-Malawian hockey team to fight for domestic honours, has participated in four international tournaments abroad and two club internationals at home.
The first home club internationals was in 2010 when Hippo from Zimbabwe visited Malawi and the second was this year in July when Lusaka Sharks graced the event. Both times, the men’s Genetrix men were runners-up to the visiting teams.
Outside Malawi, Genetrix men won the Phoenix Assurance Cup in May 2013 in Zambia.
The team, formed 22 years ago in 1994, was founded by ex-Kamuzu Academy students to accommodate more locals to participate in domestic tournaments which were dominated by foreign nationals resident and born in Malawi.
The founding members were Masautso Malaicha, Innocent Sanga, Picket Kamvazina, Jesman Chintsanya, Felix Tembwe, Martin Magomero, Jabber Alide, Ernest Kuyeya, Chikondi Mlia, late Bincoln Chibwazi, late Charles Makwalo, Barnold Saka, Ephraim Mzengo, Madalitso Kuyera, Sangwani Gondwe, Archangel Masina among others.
After dominating on the domestic scene and trying a shot at internationals, the team decided to make it a must that they should participate in more of such tournaments to gain more experience after realising that their fitness level was low such that most players could not last 70 minutes and some of the players were gripped with fear in awe of their experienced opponents.
The team also lacked proper equipment especially face masks — that led to many short corners being scored — ball guards, finger guards, knee guards and composite sticks which proved to be very good on the turf in fact.
“Genetrix was the only team using wooden sticks and our sticks were not bothered to be tested before games,” Thindwa said.
“The experiences learnt were vital. So was the exposure — many teams wondered if hockey does exist in Malawi until they saw what we could offer. On top of that relationships were established between our club and others.
“Coaches from Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya approached our coaches and gave most insightful feedback and notes and analyses on our system of play and individual players and gave lots of encouragement, which was sportsmanship at its best.
Participation itself is another mile stone for the club and country since the players learn more on discipline of keeping time, following rules, management and general conduct.
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