Netball Association of Zambia (NAZ) has expressed happiness that the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ) has for the first time in more than five years nominated a netball player for the 2018 Sports Person of the year award.

Diana Banda, a Zambia Correctional Service officer who plays netball for Prison Leopards is nominated for the award alongside Zambia Police sprinter, Sydney Siame.

In an interview with Goal Diggers! NAZ president Getrude Mukumi said that Banda’s nomination for the award spoke volumes of the strides that the association made in ensuring that the netball status in the country is escalated.

“We are very excited as an association because her nomination says a lot about the new standards of the sport in the country. We haven’t had any netballer nominated for this award in more than five years. That is why we are very happy as an association. Banda is also a great shooter in the game and she always outdoes herself,” said Mukumi.

Meanwhile, Banda called her nomination for the award a timely blessing that she will forever remember, adding that she was the oldest active netball national team player in the country.

“I was speechless when I heard the news through my fellow netballers in Lusaka and it is a big blessing to me. I’m the oldest active national team player currently so it gives me so much joy that I am finally being recognised. I will always remember this nomination whether I win or not,” said Banda.

Banda was awarded the Best Shooter during last year’s Diamond Challenge netball tournament in South Africa and during the Regional Africa Netball tournament that Zambia hosted in August last year, she scored a tournament high of three hundred and twenty-one scores in four games only.

Banda, a national team skipper, has also won a total of eight local netball awards under the Midlands Netball Association (MINA) Zambia National Service Commandant, Zambia Air Force, NAZ, Commissioners Tournament, Labour Day and Independence tournaments respectively.

Meanwhile, Banda’s rival for the nomination Sydney Siame said that it is the second time he was being nominated and hoped to scoop the award this year.

“I feel honoured that I have been nominated for the same award this year. It means am doing something great for this country and I hope I win it this year. It is really encouraging to be nominated for the same award twice and in two consecutive years,” said Siame.