Milanzi story is a big joke

If you wanted more confirmation of the backwardness of our football establishment, Thursday’s edition of The Daily Times has that piece of evidence. The Football Association of Malawi does not know the whereabouts of a player they have featured for their junior national sides and thought they had exported to DRC side TP Mazembe at the beginning of last year.

Reading through the story, you see many other mind-boggling questions apart from the fact that we do not know where the player is. In the first place, it is apparent that 14 months after he left Malawi for DRC, the player’s transfer was not formalised and, according to FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda, the association has been doing its best but to no avail. Really?

The impression being created by FAM here is that TP Mazembe has been acting without much honesty on the whole matter. If we must accept that, then let us also say our governing body has dealt with the issue with little or no responsibility. You cannot allow such a matter to drag on for over a year without taking action. Somebody was clearly sleeping on the job here.

My gut feeling is that FAM’s interest in transfers is mainly on the financial side and once they have been paid their cut, their interest goes cold. I mean, was it difficult for them to seek the intervention of higher authorities if they felt the club was proving difficult to deal with? Do they not have the powers to cause the termination of Milanzi’s contract if they felt that TP were not playing by the rules?

And if indeed Milanzi was signed on as a minor — and I will be coming back to this — does it not follow that there was some elderly family member that was involved in releasing him? Does the player not communicate with this guardian back home? Or does FAM not even know any of his family members for them to claim they are failing to contact him? Surely, even before his wife came crying for the husband, his immediate family would have been the first to cry foul?

The fact that the story does not indicate that there have been concerns from his family suggests that they know where he is. All it would take is for whoever is failing to get in touch with Milanzi, as claimed by technical director Jack Chamangwana, to contact the family member they were dealing with initially. And what is the role of his agent in all this?

As if the story is not funny enough, FAM commercial manager Casper Jangale charges Milanzi with age-cheating. Reading the quotes attributed to him, you would think the association was duped by some sophisticated liar, but is that really the case? Does FAM do enough to ensure that players do not cheat on their ages or it is just on the receiving end of whatever the players claim?

My first born son turned 17 earlier this year and, for the life in me, he does not look like someone who can handle a wife and yet FAM was convinced that a player who was married could play in its under-17 team. Or was the association not aware of his marital status until some woman popped up to claim she was deserted by the player? What does that say about its system of vetting players, if any exists at all?

The list of questions is much longer than this but this story alone is a case study that lays bare the shambolic state of our football administration. We have a very long way to go to professionalise the management of our game. For now it is a big joke.

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