China-based women football star Tabitha Chawinga has taken over the sponsorship of DD Sunshine FC, an outfit which provided her the platform to scale lofty heights.
Chawinga, currently rated as one of the top 10 players on the continent by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), is spending over K7 million annually on the club’s expenses which include allowances, accommodation, food and upkeep for the bulk of the players.
The club’s administrator James Chavula said the Jiangsu Suning forward also pays for the team’s operations, including salaries for technical staff and transport.
“The founder of the team David Dube is no longer involved in the operations of the team on health grounds and Tabitha has virtually taken over everything related to the running of the club.
“Had it not been for her, we would have disbanded by now.
“She meets all the expenses related to the team. She is transforming the lives of the players and, by so doing, she has become an inspiration to the girls. They all look up to her and they work extremely hard so that they can be like her someday,” he said.
Chavula said most of the players live in a house which Tabitha rents and has been turned into a hostel.
“The monthly rent is K80 000 and she always follows up on the progress of those that are schooling. To her, its not just about their performance on the pitch, but also their education,” he said.
Dube could not be reached for comment on Chawinga’s gesture
One of the players, Nasir Amidu, said Tabitha has helped transform her life.
“Tabitha does everything for us. From paying our school fees, accommodation and food as well as upkeep.
“She is my role model because she has proven that with hard work, we can also achieve our goals. She always tells us that it is about self-belief and dedication,” she said.
“There is nothing that we lack because she is always there for us. She is like a parent and despite her busy schedule in China, she finds time to talk to us and hear how we are doing. Not many can do that and God should always bless her.”
On her part, Chawinga said her gesture is more about giving back to the team that provided her the podium to scale greater heights.
“I am where I am today because of DD Sunshine and the only way I can give back is to sponsor the team, especially in this time of need.
“I am just happy to see that the team is doing well and that the girls are happy and I want to help as many players as possible to clinch foreign deals,” she said.
Because of Tabitha’s influence, the Chinese Ambassador Liu Hongyang, recently promised DD Sunshine a tour of China where they will play a number of friendly matches.
And Tabitha said: “I have told them that this will be their golden opportunity to impress and be signed by Chinese clubs and that’s how it ought to be.”
The pledge was made last month during a dinner to honour her exploits in the top Chinese Women Football League in which she won the Golden Boot with 17 goals.
Tabitha was also named as the friendship ambassador of the two countries.
“I got to know about her through the media. We call her the ambassador of friendship between Malawi and China, not just the world of football, but more. She is the first Malawian footballer in China and many Chinese now know Malawi because of her,” said Hongyang.
In the just-ended season, DD Sunshine won the Central Region Women’s Football League.
Tabitha was among the 10 nominees for the CAF African Woman Footballer of the Year 2018. n