The sports fraternity has paid tribute to departed President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died last Thursday, for efforts he made to develop sports to greater heights.
Sports Council, MOC, FAM and NAM cited the introduction of the K120 million (about $719 000) Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) as the late Presidentâ€™s most notable contribution towards sports development in the country.
Sports Council executive secretary George Jana said during Mutharikaâ€™s reign, the councilâ€™s budget was doubled.
“I do not remember of a time when we failed to participate in any major sporting event due to lack of funding. We had a continuous flow of funding.
“He also took the initiative to encourage and congratulate teams and individual athletes who did well. I have in mind the Flamesâ€™ 2010 Africa Cup of Nations campaign. He also met the Under-20 national football teams that won the Zone VI as well as boxer Isaac Chilemba for his exploits on the international stage,” said Jana.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said the entire football fraternity is shocked by the Presidentâ€™s sudden death.
“The news of the loss of our number one football supporter is a tragedy to the football family.
“We join the rest of the country in mourning the untimely death of the State President who had a vision to systematically develop the game of football and take it to greater heights. He has left a legacy through the Presidential Cup which has become a household competition in all the districts. May his soul rest in peace,” said Nyamilandu.
The FAM boss further said Mutharika will also be remembered for steering the qualification of the Flames to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and the Malawi Under-17 to the CAF and World Youth Championships during his term of office.
“It is saddening that we have lost a patron who supported the Flames through and through, when called for financial assistance,” he said.
Flames on-field leader Peter â€˜Mjojoâ€™ Mponda attributed Flames qualification for 2010 Africa Cup of Nations to Binguâ€™s support.
“He was a source of motivation and encouragement in many ways. He personally gave us additional bonuses during the 2010 campaign, which was a big motivation,” Mponda said.
Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) president Oscar Kanjala said Mutharika had a big vision of developing sports through the introduction of the PIS.
“The K120 million [$719 000] a year project has done a lot in developing sports in the country. From my knowledge, I do not think there is any other country in the world with such initiative and we should consider ourselves lucky.
“He also showed passion in developing all sporting disciplines as he indicated during the launch of the PIS this year that all sporting disciplines should enjoy success in international competition. It is my hope and that of the whole sports fraternity that the initiatives will continue,” said Kanjala.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rosy Chinunda said netball enjoyed great partnership with the departed president.
“He invited the national team to the State House for an audience with him. He gave us support and incentives as we went to the World Championship in 2007 and we managed to break into the top five on world rankings.
“He promised us a state-of-the-art netball court and the project was to start in due course. And, then, there is also the K30 million (about $180 000) Presidential Cup under the PIS which has given us a platform to tap talent from the rural areas. We are devastated and we are mourning with the Mutharika family,” said Chinunda.
Bingu Tigresses team manager Hellene Mpinganjira was at pains to accept the demise of their sponsor.
“If you know the history of Tigresses, then you will understand what this development means to us. He came to our rescue after we went for five years without sponsorship. Two weeks ago we had a meeting on some projects which were expected to be unveiled in due course.
“When the rumours started spreading on Thursday afternoon, that he had died, we were at training at the College of Medicine (CoM) Sports Complex and we stopped immediately and the players were so devastated, Tigresses will never be the same without Bingu,” said Mpinganjira.