United States of America-based physical education (PE) expert Kalekeni Banda and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) have asked government to reintroduce compulsory PE in primary schools in a bid to spark a sports culture that can give birth to a new generation of athletes.
Banda, whose organisation Banda Bola Sports Foundation supports schools in Nkhata Bay with sports equipment, warned that without PE it would be difficult for Malawi to excel in sports.
Banda studied Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education at the University of Massachusetts and is an experienced trainer having coached a number of US universities in soccer and athletics.
“If you look at US and other countries that have excelled in sports, they have a comprehensive PE syllabus. This is why most basketball players, footballers and other athletes are identified through schools,” he said in an interview.
Banda said lack of PE and intensive sports activities in schools “means most youths grow up without realising they have talent in some sports fields”.
“In the end, much talent is wasted because of lack of a system to identify it,” he said.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, speaking during the meeting with Parliamentary Committee on Community and Social Welfare, also advocated for the reintroduction of PE.
“The time Malawi was doing well in sports and football; there was PE as a compulsory subject. Why can’t we revert to the same system so we unearth the hidden talent?” he asked.
Nyamilandu said football was relying on a “very small catchment” to discover more talented footballers.
“We have the youth leagues where we are tapping talent. This is a small catchment area. The introduction of PE would mean broadening the horizon where we can get more players and build a strong national team,” he said.
Among the sports reforms which government planned to initiate through the Public Sector Reforms, formulation of a PE syllabus was among the key areas.
Four years down the line, the plans have not come to fruition. However, the reforms information officer Pakiya Mwahara said the initiative remains in government programmes.
“We are still looking forward to implementing this reform but then we need time because it is a complex matter.” n