It seems like yesterday when Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu faced a heated rivalry from Henry Chibowa for the FAM presidency race.
But it is now 14 months since he managed to outclass Chibowa during the elections to earn a third-term vote.
Nyamilandu came with an ambitious manifesto titled ‘Pursuit for Success and Excellence in Football through Professionalism and Sustainable Programmes’ which had a number of promises in uplifting the game of football in the country.
Now almost a year and a half gone, Nyamilandu has made a slow but sure progress in fulfilling the promises.
Among the fulfilled promises are securing sponsorship for Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers, the Fifa Goal Project in Mzuzu, securing the Carlsberg Football Cup, improving the relationship between FAM and Super League of Malawi, coming up with a harmonised calendar and increasing annual subvention to affiliates from K100 000 (about $250) to K500 000 (about $1 250).
He took a leading role in negotiating for Bullets and Wanderers sponsorship deals with Carlsberg which materialised.
Relations between FAM and Sulom are now stable unlike the cat-and-dog partnership that was there prior to the elections.
He is also on course to achieving his ambitious 2014 World Cup qualification dream, at least for now as the Flames are joint Group F leaders with African champions Nigeria’s Super Eagles on five points.
However, Nyamilandu has so far failed to accomplish one of the main promises off ensuring Flames qualification to the 2013 Afcon which the Flames missed out after losing to Ghana in the final qualifying round.
He is also yet to tackle the major projects of establishing a football academy in Lilongwe, create a fund to support unsponsored Super League teams, secure sponsorship for the Flames and striking a deal with SuperSport to beam local football.
But with almost three years left on his side, Nyamilandu believes he still has time to accomplish his mission.
“I am not the kind of man who goes around blowing his own trumpet. It is up to the people to judge. We have a strategic plan which we are following. Other project issues that are not fulfilled have not been abandoned nor failed, but are being pursed underground according to the strategic plan.
“We missed the 2013 Afcon qualification by a whisker, having lost to a good team. I am not worried with my progress so far it’s just a year gone and there is three more, let’s talk when we reach there,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
Sulom president Innocent Botomani, whose body was never at peace with FAM prior to the December 2011 elections, applauded Nyamilandu for taking an initiative to improve relations among stakeholders.
“Football is no longer home for verbal wars and hatred as it used to be. Sulom and FAM are working together, making all plans together. His efforts in securing the Bullets and Wanderers sponsorship have helped to revive Malawi football as the two were on brink of extinction.
“The other projects are long-term and we do not expect them to be fulfilled overnight. So, we have confidence in his third-term leadership and will support him to succeed,” he said.
Southern Region Football League (SRFL) chairperson Trouble Kalua said Nyamilandu’s efforts have not been helped by the ongoing economic hardships in the country.
“Barely five months in office, the kwacha was devalued and has been going down since then. Companies which were earmarked to support some of the projects, have not been forthcoming due to the economic hardships. So, in the prevailing conditions, he has done well,” said Kalua.
Nyamilandu came into office in 2004 and went on to retain the seat unopposed in 2007 before defeating Chibowa in 2011.
For his first two terms, he pointed at infrastructure at Chiwembe Technical and Development Centre as his major achievement. He credited himself for improving general administration at FAM which led the corporate world to introduction of several sponsored competitions, including Standard Bank Trophy, Presidential Cup, FMB Youth League, Peter Mutharika SRFL, Chipiku Central Region Football League and Simama Northern Region League.
Flames’ 2010 Afcon and Under-17 Africa Youth Championship and Under-17 World Cup qualification were also some of his achievements.