Chairperson of CRFL, Dean Josiah-Banda, and his NWFC counterpart Suzgo Ngwira have welcomed the FAM president Walter NyamilanduÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s move to extend an olive branch in an attempt to start a new chapter.
The Central Region Football League (CRFL) head and his National Women Football Committee (NWFC) opposite number have for sometime had a churlish relationship with the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president.
But the two FAM affiliates leaders, whose committees were the only ones that did not support NyamilanduÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s re-election bid, have insisted that as leader, Nyamilandu needs to take the first step by engaging affiliates deemed to be his adversaries.
Soon after his re-election in Salima on Saturday, Nyamilandu appealed for unity after months of conflict with a few affiliates.
Barriers which have divided the game and were squeezing life out of its lungs, were smashed this week as the tone of reconciliation became the light that is set to guide friend and foe into a new era.
Josiah-Banda, who has been critical of NyamilanduÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadership said it is time the FAM head shook off his favouritism tag and embraced all the affiliates as his Ã¢â‚¬ËœchildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
“We welcome his offer for peace and unity, but as a leader he has to go further than that and engage all the affiliates and hear their concerns. Personally, I have no problems against him, but the way he reacts to issues does not augur well with good leadership because he aligns himself with certain affiliates.
“Apart from that, he should be prepared to take advice. Those that have opposing views should not be seen as his enemies. People will always have dissenting views. What is important is for him to accommodate advice and criticism that is constructive and in that way, we can have a sound working relationship,” Josiah-Banda said.
He also advised the FAM president to refrain from entertaining gossips and liars.
“There are some people who tell the president lies to win favours, which has contributed to the sour relationship,” he said.
The CRFL head also said there is need for the FAM leadership to update affiliates on various issues for the sake of transparency.
On her part, Ngwira said the most important thing was NyamilanduÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s admission that there is a gap between him and some of the affiliates and she longs for team-building sessions to bridge the gaps.
“As women football committee, we also hope that the one that will be incorporated in the executive of FAM will be someone who will advance the interests of women football. Otherwise, I personally welcome the presidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s move to make peace because divisions are not healthy for the development of the game,” she said.
But Nyamilandu said the reconciliation process requires both parties to be willing and ready to change positively.
“The first step is mutual respect. We need to respect one another because if we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t then we wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t move forward.
“Secondly, we need to adopt an inclusive approach in the way we are going to run the business. In as far as I am concerned, it has to be a collective responsibility to make sure that Malawi football should develop and become successful.
“As individuals, we also need to search our souls on whether we have been fair and honest to ourselves and to the game we serve because some things have been done out of malice,” he said.
The FAM head also appealed to the leaders of the associationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s affiliates to avoid forming blocs based on tribal or regional grounds, saying that has somehow contributed to the current poor situation.
“The bottom line is that there has to be respect for authority. They have to respect the position I am holding as a leader in the same manner I have to respect the positions they hold. It is not something that can be sorted out overnight, but we all have to demonstrate willingness to change,” he added.
Henry Chibowa, whose bid CRFL and NWFC supported in the FAM presidential race, said it is up to FAM leadership to set the ball rolling towards reconciliation.
“If he [Nyamilandu] says so, then it is up to him to start the process for the other party to believe and take him seriously,” Chibowa said.
One of the domestic gameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s renowned commentators and former FAM secretary general Yasin Osman appears to be seeing light at the end of the tunnel and has welcomed both campsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ sentiments towards peace.
“It might be premature, but there are signs that sanity is returning. It is good that the president [Nyamilandu] is offering an olive branch. His next challenge, however, is to walk the talk and engage the affiliates that were deemed to be his rivals. The affiliates should also be able to respect him as their leader,” said Osman.
Soon after his re-election, Nyamilandu said: “I want to ask all of usÃ¢â‚¬â€those who liked and never liked meÃ¢â‚¬â€to love one another. I am seeking unity because Malawi football needs to heal.”