Guarded glee, hope

The football fraternity woke up to some fascinating news the other day. Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu was not calling the bluff after all! Sleeping giants Mighty Wanderers and Big Bullets have got some relief and, with it, the hope for a much brighter future. We certainly could do with a bit of good news coming from the game.

Of course, most of the credit goes to Carlsberg Malawi for deciding to come back into the game at such a difficult time economically. If ever there was a time when pulling out from sponsorship of sporting events would be understandable despite being painful, this is it and yet the country’s major beverage manufacturer has done it against all odds.

In doing so, Carlsberg Malawi has gone a long way towards redeeming its image in my estimation because the company should not have left the game in the first place. Yes, there were problems with hooliganism and yes, no company would like to be associated with such ugly acts, but the company could have handled the situation better. Instead, I saw a lot of arrogance, which was very sad.

And it is not the only time that companies that sponsor football and sports in general have shown that level of contempt to the game. We saw it with the then Lever Brothers and, more recently, MTL where because people are in control of money, they feel they have to flex their muscles unnecessarily instead of trying to score important points by being part of the solution and not the problem.

But I have now forgiven Carlsberg Malawi and I will continue to take my Fanta Orange and Cocopina in abundance. With a bit of convincing, I might even be converted to the harder stuff. My mother used to tell me I was too young to go for it and she passed away before telling me I was now old enough to start, so I am not sure if I can now handle it.

As we commend Nyamilandu and Carlsberg for this major breakthrough, however, we need to reflect on the weaknesses in our clubs. I, personally, do not think it is the business of the whole president of a football association to run around looking for sponsorship for football clubs. He should be concentrating on coming up and implementing policy at macro level.

What is it that the FAM president has that the clubs themselves do not have? Why can our clubs not attract many people of Nyamilandu’s calibre who can talk the language that potential sponsors can pay attention to? Initiatives like one Bullets have been managing are very good, but clubs need a number of partners to really manage their affairs sustainably.

I would like to believe that there are a few more companies, large and small, that could inject a few more kwacha in the game. All they need is a Nyamilandu to sit them down and talk business not alms-seeking. If it has been done now with so many economic hardships, it should happen at any other time because, as it has been proven, some corporate gurus have a lot of goodwill.

Away from home, my Liverpool were holding a press conference as this piece went to press yesterday where they were expected to launch the new Warrior label, to replace Adidas, and also unveil Brendan Rodgers as the new manager. For now, I will say I am happy with both developments and look forward to the future with guarded hope.

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