Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has announced a new format of the Presidential Cup under the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) following the abolition of Super League and regional leagues’ participation.
According to a press release issued yesterday, the governmentsponsored K60 million initiative will now be developmental as the new format will focus on five areas namely, the Under 17 League, district championship, capacity development programme, Beach Soccer Cup and Women Football Cup.
Previously, elite league clubs were allowed participation, contrary to the initiative’s purpose of identifying and nurturing talent.
The competitions, whose registration has already started, are scheduled to kick off on March 26. “The 2017 edition will take a different format from the past six editions following government’s endorsement of FAM’s proposal to turn the programme into a developmental one and taking out Super League and regional leagues’ teams,” the release reads.
FAM vice-president James Mwenda told The Nation yesterday that the new format will ably feed their youth development agenda, which had no support programme.
“For example, the Under-17 League will bridge the gap that exists between the Under-15 and the FMB Under-20 Leagues. We will also be able to identify talent as the best players from each district will form select teams for further nurturing,” Mwenda said.
But in the face of infrastructure challenges, age-cheating among athletes and inadequate funding for the five football development programmes, how would FAM ensure everything is done according to plan?
“In terms of infrastructure, we have agreed with district councils, as now almost 75 percent of councils have playable grounds. We are also working hand-inhand with Malawi Schools Sports Association [Massa] for some matches to be played at the available school grounds,” he said.
Mwenda added that they would use their resources and team registration fees to compensate for the inadequacy of funding for other important processes such as making monitoring visits on the programmes.
Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana said their expectation is that there will be more sports activity that will see top teams being able to spot talent.
“We also hope there will be improved learning in organisation of competitions by using the available local structures in the rural areas. Football coaching should as well improve through this initiative,” he said.
The Presidential Under-17 National League will be played in nine districts where the NYFA has structures. The districts are Karonga, Mzuzu, Nkhata Bay, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Dedza, Blantyre, Mangochi and Zomba. Each district is expected to register at least 10 teams, which will play in a league format of two rounds.
The competition will end at district level and winners will take home K200 000. The Presidential District Championship will be an event for each of the country’s 28 districts. This contest, which ends at district level, will be played between March and June on a round-robin format in zones, and knockout at district finals.
“The aim is to establish a reliable competitive football tournament in each district with the district championship leading to the formation of a district select to participate in the next Fisd Challenge Cup,” the press release stated.
Each district is expected to register at least 64 teams. Registration, which is at K10 000, ends on March 19. Winners’ prize is K300 000.
The Presidential Capacity Developmental Programme will be focusing on organising courses and training for administrators, match officials and coaches at developmental levels.
The Presidential Beach Soccer Cup will continue from the old format with teams competing on knockout basis in the four zones of Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Salima and Mangochi.
It will be used to identify participants of the FAM Cup, as two top teams in each zone will make it into the national competition. The Presidential Women Football Cup will as well use the old format aimed at continued player development.
The knockout event will start from 15 districts across the country with the district champions joining seeded teams for the regional championship. Regional champions will qualify for the national championship in June.