Flames poorly funded

A comparative analysis of some sub-Saharan national football teams shows that the Flames are the least funded.

The analysis contained in a report, which Football Association of Malawi (FAM) presented to Parliamentary Committee on Community and Social Affairs recently, shows that the Flames get $405 859 (K300 million) annually.

The infographic shows FAM funding as compared to Zambia, Kenya and South Africa

The Chipolopolo of Zambia, get $2.8 million (K2.1 billion), Kenya’s Harambe Stars receive $3.8 million (K3 billion) while South Africa’s Bafana Bafana expenditure stands at $8 million (K6 billion).

The report also shows massive gaps in players’ incentives. A Malawi national team player, it says, pockets K30 000 for a win, Zambian player carts home $3 500 (K2.5 million), a Kenyan takes home $2 500 (K1.8 million) while a South African footballer earns $5 000 (K3.6 million).

Zimbabwe is also among the teams that pay their players highly if remarks made by its Football Association.

In the build up to the 2017 Afcon finals, former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) president Philip Chiyangwa claimed their national team players were the best paid at the tournament.

According to Zimbabwe’s online publication Newsday, the players were entitled to $5 000 (K3.5 million) appearance fee per game.

In an interview with Nation on Sunday on Friday, Zifa spokesperson Xolisane Gwetsela could not be drawn to disclose the funding which the team gets annually.

“We sometimes get funding from government, but not always. On actual figures, I would have to verify and revert later,” he said in a response.

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu in an interview, said the adequate funding has an impact on the national team’s performance.

South Africa and Zambia have both won the Africa Cup of Nations while Kenya has qualified for this year’s continental showpiece in Egypt this June.

“It is not a coincidence that these countries have done well while we are lagging behind. Without adequate resources, the preparations are shoddy making it difficult for a team to succeed,” he said.

The FAM president also said the difference in the number of players plying their trade overseas, also tells a story that Malawi is far much behind.

“Malawi had no professional player overseas until recently when Robin Ngalande and Yamikani Chester clinched deals. Zambia has 16 players, Kenya has 16 while South Africa has 15,” he said.

Nyamilandu said the inadequate funding has forced them to struggle to rebuild the team with young talented players.

“We have subsequently lost out because we couldn’t afford to have youth national teams since 2010 after the Malawi U-17 qualified for the World Youth Cup in 2009,” he said.

“The big questions are: Is the Flames geared for success? Does the funding match with our ambition and passion?”

The parliamentary Committee chairperson Richard Chimwendo Banda said it was pointless to expect good results when the team is underfunded.

“We are looking at the best possible way to ensure that government pumps more resources into the team. It is only through increased investment that we can achieve great things,” he said.

The FAM report was presented to the committee after some people petitioned Parliament to demand an explaination on the Flames poor performance.

One of the FAM proposals, which the committee endorsed, is that the Flames should get its own allocation direct from the national budget as is the case in Zambia.

Currently, the Flames get grants from Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS)allocation which is shared among over 40 sports associations.

Meanwhile, Chimwendo-Banda has said their findings, stemming from their inquest, will be presented to Parliament during the current sitting.

Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development spokesperson Christina Mtukumula said FAM has not submitted the report to government therefore it was difficult for her to comment.

“That report has not come to the ministry so it would not be proper that we comment on it,” she said.

Football financial analyst Chiku Kalilombe said the Flames poor funding can cause Malawi not to be competitive.

“Obviously, we lack in many aspects owing to funding and we end up in a situation of mere participation instead of competing as we don’t do some of the pre-requisite activities and sustain preparation for a long time. We probably also don’t motivate our players and technical teams enough as we lack the funding.

“For example being called for national team should be the ultimate desire and the same should mean better training conditions and to an extent monetary returns,” he said.

Zambia and South Africa also rely on sponsorship from the corporate world with a host of companies pumping millions in their teams.

Currently, Flames only corporate sponsor is FDH which gives it K60 million a year.

Meanwhile, Kalilombe said there was need for FAM to scale up its efforts of reaching out to the corporate world.

“A lot needs to be done by authorities not only at FAM but across the whole football administration set up. To sell the game doesn’t only happen at national level, but across the board. Of course FAM has to play a bigger role,” he said.

Kalilombe, who is an economist, was also quick to point out that the state of our economy makes it difficult to match with the other countries contributions to the national team.

“We also need to take cognizant of fact that if our economy is struggling we might not succeed in this drive as easier as our friends but we need to do what we can in our circumstances,” he said.

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