Lack of medical insurance haunts players

Lack of medical scheme and insurance policy in the country continues to put football players’ lives at risk.

Yet Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) offered a fair scheme for all TNM Super League teams players.

Nyoni needs K1.9 million to undergo a surgery after sustaining an injury two years ago

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and its influential affiliate Super League of Malawi (Sulom) have confessed that the situation is putting the lives of players in the top-flight TNM Super League in danger.

The development follows the predicament of Blue Eagles left-back Alupheus Nyoni who was injured two years ago against Red Lions in a league game.

He joins former Be Forward Wanderers Maxwell Chirwa, Escom United Elvis Kafoteka, Vincent Gona, whose careers were brought to an end after suffering serious injuries.

The Blue Eagles defender was recommended to undergo surgery at Beit Cure International, but it has been difficult for the Malawi Police Service outfit to provide K1.9 million medical bill.

This is coming at a time FAM, Sulom and Football Players Association (FPA) have been pushing for the implementation of medical and insurance cover for players through Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm).

Masm chief executive officer Sydney Chikoti, who is also chairperson of Mighty Tigers, faulted teams for not offering their players medical cover.

“We offered a reasonable group scheme for clubs two years ago, but only two teams registered and we advised Sulom to find a way of mobilising resources for the service to roll out.

“The rate was quoted at K1 000 per person [K30 000 for a team of 30] per month. With this [K12 000] a year every person would have been covered at K5 million,” he said.

But the former Be Forward Wanderers chairperson said if the scheme is to restart they will have to review the quotation.

FAM compliance and club licensing manager Casper Jangale blamed players for rushing to sign contracts without looking at their welfare.

“All challenges boil down to players lacking knowledge or understanding whenever they sign employment contracts with clubs.

“It’s a trend in Malawi football to see players in the elite league playing social football without any cover. Football Players Association (FPA) failure to act as a bridge between clubs and players through collective bargaining,” he said.

Jangale said FAM has been pushing clubs directly and through Sulom to ensure that players are covered even if clubs are in tough economic environment.

He said national team players are covered under the Fifa club protection programme.

Sulom president Tiya Somba Banda said the association is exploring other avenues to come up with medical and insurance cover.

“We are putting in place measures of having a holistic view of players’ welfare. The expected outputs include ensuring that issues of insurance, medical cover and wages are mandatory in the players’ contracts so that our players should be able to access medical attention as when the need arise and not to rely on well wishers,” he said.

In an interview Nyoni said he is still waiting to be assisted two years after the injury.

“I got the quotation at Beit Cure amounting to K1 942 000 which I am waiting from those responsible to fund for my treatment,” he said.

“It’s sad that the team is treating me this way despite the commitment I had to the club.

“The little we get from the business my wife is doing is sustaining us. Thank God I am also working otherwise without that then I don’t think I would have been in town by today,” said a father of a 10-year-old boy.

Eagles’ chairman Alexander Ngwala said Nyoni will undergo major surgery within this month at Belt Cure.

He said: “Nyoni has undergone various stages of medical investigation and treatment, including X-ray, MRI and also taking him to Belt Cure with expenses borne by Blue Eagles.”

On the team’s failure to pay him upkeep allowance, Ngwala said Blue Eagles players employed by Malawi Police Service do not get upkeep allowances.

On his part, FPA general secretary Ernest Mangani blamed teams for failing to join the association.

“We already agreed with Masm on medical aid for our members, but there has been resistance from teams.

“So far, we have registered less than 100 members from Moyale, Dwangwa and national teams,” he said.

However, Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said they cannot register their players with FPA for the sake of medical and insurance cover.

“Once we sign a player, he is registered for Masm and insured by Nico,” he said.

Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao also said there are some issues that the players association body need to sort out for their players become members.

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