Window of opportunity

Desperate for a breakthrough in securing deals for local players overseas, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has partnered a renowned global sports management company, Rainbow Sports Investments (RSI).

Among others, RSI manages 2017 Africa Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) player of the tournament—Cameroonian Christian Mougang Bassogog—who now plays in the Chinese top-flight league and recently facilitated Be Forward Wanderers and Flames’ attacker Yamikani Chester’s Czech Republic deal and his eventual loan agreement with a US club.

Nyamilandu: They will be scouting for talent

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the partnership will include scouting for Malawian players to provide them an opportunity to play professional football overseas.

“We met the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer [CEO] Kingsley Pungong at the CAF awards in Dakar, Senegal, where the agreement was reached,” he said.

Nyamilandu said as part of the agreement, Pungong will follow the Under-23 national team to Belgium where he will watch their friendly matches next month.

“He will also come to watch the Under-23 taking on Zambia in an Under-23 Afcon qualifier as well as the senior team’s 2019 Afcon qualifier against Morocco in March.

“We have further agreed to arrange for a schools’ festival so that he can have a feel of the raw talent that we have,” he said.

However, the FAM president could not be drawn to comment on the terms of the deal.

Pungong had not responded to our questionnaire by press time yesterday, but he was recently quoted by www.goal.com as having said that the most recent success story of the network and system put in place by his firm is the story of Bassogog, “who in just three years has progressed in his career across four continents and become one of Africa’s most exciting footballers today”.

He said: “The ambition we have is to reach out into streets of Africa and uncover many more talents like Christian. We know they are there and have spent many years now developing our system to support a new future for African football.”

Pungong was further quoted as saying: “It is common knowledge that the continent breeds strong footballing talent, but prior to now, it has been done without too much infrastructure in the continent itself. We want to change the face of African football for the better and ensure the continent benefits from the beautiful game too.”

Blossoming local players—Fransisco Mkonda and Precious Sambani—said the development could be a stepping stone for Malawian players to realise their dreams of playing at top level.

Said Mkonda: “Personally, I think it is a good initiative because such opportunities are hard to come by for local players. I think it will motivate us to work even harder knowing that a ray of light has filtered through.”

On his part, Sambani said: “It is encouraging because most of the times, the opportunities that come up are from countries such as Mozambique and South Africa.”

Reacting to the development, football analyst George Kaudza Masina said: “It is good for the development of our football. The more players we can export to overseas leagues, shall mean our players getting the exposure they require to improve on their performance which is likely to trickle down to the Flames.

“As a country, we have the talent, but what they lack is exposure. However, the only challenge I foresee is how the clubs will be factored in.”

Currently, Malawi has only two players plying their trade overseas, namely Jabulani Linje (Japan) and Tawonga Chimodzi Greece while Chester will be the third.

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