FAM Under-17 national team and Malawi School Sports Association’s (Massa) team of the same age group have merged to form one team that will participate at Federation of East African Secondary Schools Sports Associations (Feassa) tournament.
The tournament will be held in Arusha, Tanzania from August 17 to 24.
Initially, Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) team was separately preparing for the Cosafa Under-17 Championship which Malawi will host from September 25 to October 5 while the Massa team was preparing for the Feassa tourney.
However, Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) ordered FAM and Massa, who are both sponsored by government, to work together.
Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka observed that having two national teams of the same age group was a duplication.
“We felt the two should work together and have one team instead of government spending on two teams of the same age group at the same time. If we concentrate on one team comprising players from the two teams, it would mean pouring resources for a strong one team rather than two.
“Actually, if they have one team, it means they will use the Feassa tournament to prepare for the Cosafa Under-17 Championship which Malawi is hosting,” he said.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said an agreement has since been reached between the two associations.
“We have reached an agreement on the fundamental principle that the Under-17 we have been putting together goes along the Massa contingent. This is one way of complementing roles that exist between FAM and Massa on football development conveyer belt,” he said.
Massa general secretary Blackson Malamula said the players in the team that FAM has been asked to form will be students only.
“The agreement is that only those players that are students should be in the team going to Tanzania. Our understanding is that a player who is under-17 must be in school. This tournament is for students only not school leavers,” he said.
FAM has assembled a 30-member Under-17 national team squad following a two-day inter-regional tournament held two weeks ago.
Malamula said Massa coaches were part of the initial players’ selection exercise in regions and they expect the 20-member squad going to Arusha, Tanzania to be those identified by their coaches.
“We have been working with FAM. We have a pool of Under-17 players which we gave to FAM and 20 of them made it into the final 30-member squad. These are the players that we will take to Tanzania. This way, we are giving the Malawi Under-17 national football team the best platform to prepare for the Cosafa Youth Championship,” he said. The team, which leaves for Tanzania tomorrow by road and will be under a technical panel headed by DeKlerk Msakakuona, is in Group C alongside Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.