Word of honour

President Peter Mutharika yesterday gave his word to domestic football powerhouses—Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers—that the stadia projects which he promised them, will be included in the forthcoming  2019-20 National Budget.

The President made the assurance when he had an audience with the two teams at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.

Mutharika (R) greets Nyamilandu (L) as Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka looks on

Spotting a sky-blue suit and appearing free and easy, Mutharika said: “We cannot build these stadiums in one day. But we will build them, and soon for that matter [and] in the next budget, there will be a provision for the two teams.”

He also defended the move to construct the stadia for privately owned teams.

 “That criticism is not justified. T. My answer to this criticism is that we are developing football in this country. Besides, these stadiums will always be used and enjoyed by the public.

“Let me urge Malawians to take into the spirit of contributing to the development of football in the country. I call upon the private sector to support government in developing football in the country,” said Mutharika sounding ice-cool.

He also commended management of the two teams for cultivating discipline in their supporters supporters.

“We have seen a remarkable decline in football hooliganism and violence.

“When it comes to taming violence and disciplining your followers, you are doing far much better than political leaders in this country. Well done,” he said with a grin, amid applause from the audience that included officials from the two clubs, FAM, government and the two captains—John Lanjesi (Bullets) and Alfred Manyozo Jnr (Wanderers).

“I also want to commend you for taking the route of commercialising sports. That is the way to go.”

He, however, urged them to put the life and welfare of their players first, saying.

Nomads chairperson Gift Mkandawire, who spoke on behalf of the two clubs, thanked Mutharika for his “unprecedented directive to build stadiums for the two teams… We didn’t expect it and we do not take it for granted”.

Said the Nomads boss: “You will go down in history as the only President who looked at our plight. You have shown that you care about these teams and we truly appreciate your gesture.”

He also asked the President to intervene on the creation of deliberate policies to enhance the survival of the clubs.

“There is lack of investment in football. We fight for K15 million [as the prize for winning the TNM Super League] after spending well over K400 million in a season,” said Mkandawire.

Taking his turn, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said through his gesture, Mutharika demonstrated that he is the number one supporter of football. “Infrastructure is the critical component of football [and] it has been difficult for the clubs to thrive without a home. The stadia will create a platform for commercialisation as clubs will rake in money from broadcasting and television rights, apart from gate takings,” he said.

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