Polishing diamonds

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has introduced an annual national tournament involving selected players from regional leagues and the First Capital Bank (FCB) Under-20 League aimed at polishing and exposing hidden talent to top-flight league clubs.

 The inaugural Rough Diamonds Tournament is expected to run from this Saturday to Sunday at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe with K20 million funding from FAM.

Chitetezo Mbaula action involving Bullets Reserve (L) and Ntopwa FC

The soccer governing body, among others, has invited all the 16 TNM Super League clubs to the event to spot talent ahead of the 2019 season.

In an invitation letter to Super League clubs and football sponsors, FAM commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola wrote on behalf of FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda  they anticipate  that national team coaches, Super League team administrators and their coaches “to come and shop the next best football talent for their teams”.

In an interview yesterday, Matola said the competition will provide a platform for top-flight league teams to easily identify players that can effectively fit into their squads before the kick-off of every season.

 The contest is also expected to help reduce tension among Super League clubs, who fight for recycled elite league players ahead of a new season due to their laxity to spot emerging talents from the country’s remote areas.

 “There are a lot of football talents in the rural and remote areas, but most top-flight league clubs hardly send scouts to pick and polish such gems. The Rough Diamonds Tournament has come in to bridge that gap and strengthen our top-flight league by putting together such talents at the clubs’ disposal,” he said.

Super League clubs have since welcomed the competition, describing it as the most effective way of easing their expenditure on talent search.

 Silver Strikers general secretary Lawrence Yobe said: “Most of our players come from the regional and youth leagues, but it requires a lot of effort and expenditure to identify the talent as we have to run up and down the country in our search.”

 Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said with the latest initiative, FAM seems to have now started talking the proper football language.

 “In regional leagues there is a lot of hidden talent that just lacks exposure.  The Rough Diamonds Tournament is one of the many routes to polish and expose raw talent in the game. Successful teams in the past used to have vibrant youth sides” he said.

He, however, said the tournament should be part of the football calendar.

 The schedule of the inaugural Rough Diamonds Tournament, which will be played on round robin basis, indicates that Chipiku Stores Central Region Select team will take on Simama and Sons (Simso) Northern Region Select side in the morning tomorrow before Chitetezo Mbaula Southern Region Select faces FCB Under-20 Select at 1pm. Simama and Chitetezo Mbaula select teams will play the last game.

On Sunday, FCB Under-20 will be up against Chipiku and Simama selects at 8:30am and 1pm, respectively. Then, at 3:30pm, Chipiku will sort it out against Chitetezo Mbaula. n

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