After serving the Malawi National Council of Sports for three decades, George Jana has parted ways with the local sports governing body.
And just like the book of Ecclesiastes 3 verse one, he could not have put it any better: “There is time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Jana, who has been the council’s executive secretary for the past 16 years, yesterday said it is time to move on with life after government decided not to renew his contract.
“In essence my three-year contract expired in 2015, but I wasn’t getting any feedback until now.
“But in 2015, I had shown interest to renew for another three years [up to 2018] and based on lack of feedback, the assumption was that it was renewed and, therefore, the current one was supposed to run up to 2021 by conduct, but it has been curtailed,” he said.
Asked how he felt taking a bow after serving the council for such lengthy period, Jana said: “I have dedicated my life to the council since 1989 and naturally it was my second home… but there always comes a time. Ntchito imatha, it’s like life, whereby there are good days and bad days.”
The towering sports official said the letter from government informing him about the development is dated April 26, yet he only received it on May 3.
Nevertheless, Jana said he leaves with fond memories of his lengthy stint, citing helping it get its own identity, by among other things, securing asset portfolio such as BAT Ground, Kamuzu Institute for Sports and Blantyre Youth Centre.
“Establishing international relationships with other regional bodies and being party to the team that successfully campaigned for hosting the Region 5 Games in 2022 will also remain embedded in my memory.”
His other achievements include introducing sports awards, Blantyre Marathon, he also initiated Sports Business Management course run by University of Pretoria which is now in its 12th cohort.
During his tenure, subventions for football and netball more than doubled following successful negotiations with government, but the others remained stagnant.
Jana has also been key in the Hockey Stadium project and seeing through the commercialisation drive at the council, which led to the implementation of the hostels project, creation of a bar and restaurant and acquiring a bus.
Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development spokesperson Christina Mkutumula yesterday confirmed Jana’s exit, saying he served the council with utmost dedication.
“We will miss his services and the efforts he has made during his tenure cannot be overemphasised, he has played a great role in many aspects to improve sports and we appreciate his service,” she said.
Mkutumula said in the interim, the council’s administration manager Henry Mereka will act as the executive secretary.
Comptroller of Statutory Corporations Stewart Ligomeka was not available for comment yesterday on the conditions under which Jana was working after the expiry of his contract.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said they had a good working relationship with Jana.
“We will miss George, he has been the heart and soul of sports in Malawi for many years.
“He has gone away with invaluable experience and knowledge in sports administration and we will live to remember him as an icon. George was also accommodative and we wish him well in his future endeavours,” he said.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu said Jana was someone whose leadership was influential in the development of netball.
“He always made sure that NAM got funding from government even when we had exhausted our allocation. He was also key in helping us resolve internal disputes as well as with other stakeholders.
“We will miss his services, but at the same time we realise that government has seen it fit to make changes “and as such, we hope that his successor will, as well, conduct the duties prudently and professionally,” she said.
On his part, Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) president Hamlett Kamtengeni said: “It comes as a shocker! George has been very supportive, even when we knew that there were financial challenges, he could still try to find a way out. He helped in arranging courses for our technical people and his office was always accommodative.”
Sports analyst George Kaudza Masina said while there was need for change, “we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that he was good at his work. He gave it all his best”. n