As the 2019 tripartite elections draw closer, football and netball tournaments are back in numbers nationwide as aspirants of Parliamentary or Presidential seats get deeply immersed in a campaign mood.
In Zomba Malosa Constituency, incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Kachale and other aspirants Kaguta Stanley Kafere and Desmond Bikoko [Lilongwe Mayor] have all come up with football tournaments in the area.
Legislator for Chiradzulu East, Henry Mussa, recently also launched football and netball trophies.
Similar trends have occurred in other constituencies such as Kasungu North, Blantyre South and Mzimba North.
These tournaments emerge every time elections are about to take place, but fizzle out immediately after the politicians have achieved their desired goals at the end of the polls.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) vice-general secretary Brian Gausi have admitted they are powerless as regards bringing sanity to the events and there is little impact that campaign tournaments make on the development of sports in the country.
According to Nyamilandu, their hands are tied when it comes to monitoring the impact of the events on football development.
“Regulating the game at this level becomes very difficult because of politics and we would like to remain apolitical,” he said. “It is our wish to develop scouts in all districts to identify talent in the rural areas from these matches.”
Gausi said they expect an improved organisation of campaign netball tournaments after NAM had a meeting with the Parliamentary Women Caucus chaired by Jesse Kabwira last year when they advised Members of Parliament (MPs) to use NAM structures whenever they are to have netball tournaments for guidance and technical support.
“Politicians rarely involve netball structures at zonal or district levels to assist in the running of their competitions and sometimes netball rules are deliberately bent to favour their political direction. For instance, one of the politicians told umpires that kuno ndi kumudzi osamayimbira ziri zonse. As a result, instead of improving netball standards, the events fueled chaos,” he said.
“But since we conducted the sensitization meeting, we have noted some improvement as some MPs, such as Aggie Nyalonje and Ken Kandodo, have started following our advice by among other things organising umpiring and coaching trainings to add skills to those handling their games.”
Sports administration expert George Kaudza-Masina said FAM and NAM, as the country’s sole football and netball authorities respectively, in Malawi are supposed to, through their regional and district committees, regulate the tournaments.
“Otherwise, politicians will continue exploiting our athletes for personal gains,” the former FAM general secretary stated.