Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) has expressed disappointment at the country’s general poor performances in international competitions, telling the sports industry to “take stock and prepare properly for future competitions.”
MNCS is a government agency that oversees the operations of over 20 sports associations which also benefit from grants provided in the national budget.
In his assessment of Malawi’s performance at international level in the just-ended year, MNCS executive secretary George Jana said the results have not been impressive despite the nation investing substantial resources in sports.
“The results have been disappointing to say the least and all our sports people require to take stock and properly prepare for any future competitions,” he said.
Sports associations have usually downplayed the poor performances by saying that tournaments help to expose the athletes.
But Jana described it as a lame excuse that should not be tolerated in this age.
“Time is past when we must continue saying we have gained exposure. Why should it always just be us gaining exposure? I do not believe we are that backward,” he said.
Though the country did not specify the teams and athletes that did not impress in the just ended year, netball and football were among the codes that somehow performed dismally.
The Queens could only settle for sixth position at the Fast5 World Netball Series where they lost all matches, falling three places from the previous year.
The year also saw the Flames being kicked out of the Championship of African Nations (Chan) and also misfired at the Cosafa Cup where they were eliminated in early stages.
The Under-20 team also failed to win the Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championship after failing to progress to knockout stages despite flashes of brilliance in early games.
Ironically, football and netball received a lion’s share of government grants as they jointly pocketed K500 million.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) vice-president James Mwenda said he shared the council’s concerns but was quick to point out that his body is working hard to improve the performances of national teams.
“We are currently running rigorous youth development programmes. These initiatives have improved skills of young talents. We hope that when they graduate into the national team set-ups we shall start winning trophies,” he said.
Mwenda said the country has already seen the fruits of the programmes citing Malawi’s third-place finish at the Cosafa Under-17 Championship in Mauritius last year.
“We were not contented with third-place finish because we could have loved to win the trophy. Nonetheless, it was a positive sign that the youth development programmes we are running, are bearing results,” he said.
Most sports administrators and analysts have been querying that it is difficult for Malawi to compete effectively at the international level because of low funding towards some sports codes. n