President Lazarus Chakwera left the good news he had for the triumphant Scorchers late and even when it was delivered, it did not come from him.
After his speech, the President, who hosted the Scorchers to a luncheon at State House in Lilongwe yesterday to congratulate them for winning the Cosafa Women’s Championship in South Africa, appeared to have left the team in suspense.
But up stepped the Presidential Press Secretary Anthony Kasunda with the good news that the Malawi National Women’s Football Team players will be offered K1.5 million each and a 35 metres by 25 metres piece of land each in Area 45 near Likuni Roundabout for their feat.
The announcement was greeted by wild applause from the Scorchers.
In his speech, Chakwera said the Scorchers success was no mean achievement.
He said: “It did not happen by luck. It is not by luck that you beat South Africa 4–3 in your first group stage match. It is not by luck that you dismantled e-Swatini by 8 goals to nil in your second group stage match.
“It is not by luck that you disoriented Madagascar with a 3–1 win in your third group stage match. It is not by luck that you left our neighbours Mozambique dizzy with a 2–1 victory in the semi-final. And it is certainly not by luck that you snatched the crown from the grasp of the defending champions themselves, Zambia with a 2–1 victory.
“A job well-done to you and congratulations to all the stakeholders who have played a role in making this victory possible, including the Ministry of Sports under my administration, the Malawi National Council of Sports, the Football Association of Malawi, Coach Lovemore Fazili and the technical staff.”
“So, from the bottom and on behalf of 20 million joyful hearts, thank you for proving that Malawi as a country is a winning team, and I wish you more success in the tournaments to come.”
The President also acknowledged the financial assistance the team got from Goshen City through Prophet Shepherd Bushiri which enabled the Scorchers to travel to Johannesburg for the tournament.
Speaking earlier on, Scorchers stand-in captain Temwa Chawinga asked the President to consider giving the players a plot each to enable them build houses.
“Most of the players here solrely depend on their earnings from football which is not much. I would, therefore, like to ask you Mr. President to consider offering them jobs because with you, anything is possible,” she said.
The China-based forward, who won the Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot awards, also said as a team they face so many challenges, citing lack of sponsorship, team bus.
“These girls are not motivated, they play the game out of passion and dedication. So, as a parent, please help us,” she said.
In response before Kasunda announced the reward, Chakwera said: “I want you to know that I have also taken note of your appeals and we will address your concerns.
“And I also want to appeal to private sector companies to come in and support you because your exploits are a source of pride for all of us.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and National Women’s Football Association chairperson Adelaide Migogo said despite the team’s success, it lacks support.
Said Migogo: “There are so many tournaments that we could have joined, but we didn’t due to lack of funds.
“The boys have tried their lack, let us try our lack too.”
She also appealed to the corporate world to emulate Goshen City and individuals such as Isaac Jomo Osman in sponsoring women’s football.
“Through you, Your Excellency, we also want to extend our invitation to the First Lady [Monica Chakwera] to be our patron. It will be an honour to the team,” said Migogo.
On his part, Nyamilandu thanked the President for hosting the Scorchers to appreciate their feat.
He said: “Our Scorchers are an example of what we can achieve as a country. This is the success you inspired in them. In these young girls, we see quality that you want to see in the citizens.
“But like in many parts of the world, Malawi suffered discriminatory aspect against women football.
“We were on the verge of withdrawing from the tournament had it not been for the help we got from Goshen City.”
Minister of Youth and Sports Uchizi Mkandawire said the Scorchers’ success was proof that Malawi has great talent “and that women can help in the development of the country”.
He said: “We are seeing tangible results under your leadership Your Excellency. And my ministry will continue to support all sports disciplines so that they continue winning more medals.”