‘Bittersweet’

Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) has described the country’s performance in different codes on the international stage in the just-ended year as “bittersweet”.

Sports Council executive secretary George Jana yesterday said while some codes performed well, the bulk of the established ones were a big disappointment.

The Flames failed to register a win

“Some [sports] disciplines such as hockey, golf and cricket performed well. Professional boxing , though not under us, has also done exceptionally well. But the popular ones [disciplines] were a disappointment.

“Football has not performed to our expectations; obviously netball has also not registered the performance that we expected while athletics has been a huge disappointment. They haven’t done anything that one can be proud of, the same as amateur boxing,” he said.

Jana said administratively, most associations still have a lot of work to do.

“Most of them are still activity-based and lack focus and vision which is affecting our development. They have no development programmes in place and we have to actively work with them and see to it that they improve,” he said.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu conceded that the just-ended year, which saw the Flames failing to register a win in nine matches—drawing four and losing the others—was tough, eventful, but promising.

“The major concern has been the performance of the national team which has been unsatisfactory. However, it was encouraging to see the Flames play with flare and panache which shows that despite not winning consistently, the team is making good progress in terms of style of play. It is only a matter of time before the much-needed goals start coming.

“The young players that have been fused into the team give us hope for the future that we are on the verge of turning the corner. This was echoed with outstanding performance of the youth national teams,” he said.

On the local front, Nyamilandu said the sponsored national competitions were competitive and entertaining.

“Our grassroots football development programmes are taking great shape and the various youth football leagues are getting entrenched and reaching maturity. No wonder the new crop of players that is coming out is of world-class standard. We are, therefore, looking into the new season with great optimism,” said the FAM president.

Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) president Lonzoe Defector Zimba described 2018 as a “very successful year”.

“Two of our female boxers—Anisha Bashir and Ellen Simwaka—won international belts. We also managed to secure international title and non-title bouts for our boxers in Namibia, Russia, South Africa, US, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, among others. I was also elected into the Africa Boxing Union board.

“In terms of challenges, most of our male boxers failed to live to expectations in international bouts and while we appreciate government’s support, we would like to urge them to purchase rings in all the regions for continued development of our boxers,” he said.

Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) vice-general secretary Banthari Banda yesterday said National Bank of Malawi’s (NBM) doubling of Mo626ice College Basketball Championship sponsorship to K62 million and the commissioning of the basketball court at Kamuzu Institute for Sports (KIS) in Lilongwe were their major successes in 2018.

“It is also important to mention that the local clubs’ first participation in the [world basketball governing body] Fiba-sanctioned club championship in Zimbabwe was the other big accomplishment. Bravehearts and Central Knights represented us well,” he said.

But Banda pointed out infrastructure challenges as the major setback because most teams had no good venues for training and games and the available venues had tight schedules that stifled the development of the game.

“We expect these things to change for the better in 2019 and we would like to focus much on developing basketball in primary and secondary schools. In the new year, we would also like to build a strong national team for international competitions,” he said.

On his part, Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya said they had mixed fortunes in 2018.

“Athletes were eager to up their game and, as an association, we were very much willing to assist the athletes in terms of their development but poor funding was our major setback,” he said.

“We failed to expose our athletes in important events such as the African Athletics Championship in Nigeria. Generally, it was more or less like a 50-50 situation as we had a number of successes as we managed to send athletes to the African Cross Country Championship in Algeria, where we did well by finishing fifth overall.”

He added they also had two coaching courses, which helped them to improve the sport at grassroots level.

But how would athletics survive in 2019 if they fail to get enough funding for their operations?

“We have arranged a number of fundraising activities, including the CEOs Championship, which will see participants contributing something to the wellbeing of the sport. Our K1.7 million annual subvention is just peanuts and we have devised a plan to generate own income,” he said.

Responding to the issue of funding, Jana said: “Funding will always be a problem and it is not only here, it is across the continent and even beyond. We will always try to lobby for more funding, but I have always said that with proper planning and vision, associations can generate additional funding.”

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