Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development yesterday received two sites from Blantyre City Council where government will build stadiums for Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
The development follows President Peter Mutharika’s pledge in January to construct stadiums for the two domestic football giants.
Following meetings with stakeholders Nyasa Big Bullets picked land near Moneymen Growth Centre along Chikwawa Road while Wanderers opted for land near Kanjedza Forest in Limbe West opposite Blantyre Teachers Training College.
However, yesterday’s handover was not short of drama as sites were switched, sparking protests from Wanderers.
After a meeting that lasted several hours at Malawi National Council of Sports, the two teams switched the lands.
“All along we were allocated the land at Kanjeza. We were just surprised that there was that change. But we are happy that the mistake has been rectified,” said Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire.
Haiya also said they had no problem with the site at Zingwagwa.
“Actually, we like it better because it’s within town,” he said.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Grace Chiumia said the land handover demonstrates government’s commitment to fulfil the promise to build the stadiums.
“When the President made the pledge in January, some thought it was just politics. But he was serious. He is always serious when it comes to developing this country,” she said.
“The handover of the land from Blantyre City Council to our ministry is the first step in ensuring that the two clubs own stadiums which government will build for them.”
Bullets chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya thanked the President for fulfilling the pledge.
“We are very happy to see the President’s pledge being fulfilled. When he made the promise we knew this was not just mere politics.”
“We would like to thank the President for this. Our plea is that this should not just end here. We would like to see the project starting as soon as possible.”
A clarification was also made that the title deeds would initially be in the ministry’s name until the official handover of the stadium to the clubs is made.
During a whistle-stop tour of Blantyre townships, Mutharika promised to build stadiums for the two clubs.
Mkandawire said Wanderers had been struggling to raise money to build a stadium.
“For a long time, we have been trying to build a stadium. We have done fundraising several times. We have been to Blantyre City Council to apply for land, but things were not working. This is, therefore, a dream come true for us.”
“We never doubted the President’s promise. All our supporters were just waiting for a moment like this. We knew just this dream would come true,” he said.
Blantyre City Council director of planning Costly Chanza said they were proud to hand over the land to the country’s football power houses.
“When the President made the directive to identify land for the two stadiums, we did not waste time. We immediately identified these two sites for the projects. ,” he said.