Respected football figures in the country have attributed failure of Malawian players to make a grade in foreign leagues to appetite for glamorous lifestyle.
In recent times, most of Malawiâ€™s football exports to South Africa have failed to make the grade at their clubs. Some have even warmed the bench for entire durations of their contracts.
“It all boils down to glamorous lifestyles they lead once they are signed. It is a completely different environment out there and our players get carried away forgetting why they are there,” said Flames coach Kinnah Phiri who has spent most of his coaching career in Swaziland and South Africa.
Kinnah observed that the way professionals handle fame and money often defines their career.
“Once they get those lucrative deals, they start changing their eating and drinking habits. In the process, they get overweight and their performance is reduced. Such habits are monitored by coaches,” he said.
Flames assistant coach Young Chimodzi, who is among the countryâ€™s soccer legends, concurred with his boss.
“They get a lot of money there and in the course of time change their lifestyles to suit the new-found wealth. They, instead, forget about football discipline. A professional player is supposed to be of sober habits,” said Chimodzi, falling short of mentioning names.
Chimodzi himself has a son (Tawonga) also plying his trade in South Africa.
He said local players tend to relax once they get signed. Instead of maintaining the same zeal they demonstrate during trials, he said, our players tend to relax and take things easy, which is a big mistake because they have to compete for positions.
Chimodzi said together with Kinnah, they have advised some of our professionals on guidelines to follow, but not many have taken heed of their advice.
Another sports administrator, who asked for anonymity, said Patrick Mabedi and John Maduka have been successful because they are of sober habits and were never carried away by events.
“It is the a trend everywhere, even in Europe. Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has maintained his success at the highest level because of discipline,” he said.
Hellings Mwakasungura who played professional football in South Africa, said the main reason Malawians have failed to break ground in recent years is because they lack good managers.
“You need a good manager or agent who can advise you on the dos and donâ€™ts in professional football, including eating and drinking habits. Players from other countries have good managers who are conversant with professional soccer,” said Mwakasungura.
He said Malawian players also need active agents who are capable of marketing the players to the coaches to have game time.
An agent is supposed to be active in engaging the club management if they are not giving you game time. That is the spirit the world over, but majority of Malawian playersâ€™ agents do not have the clout to engage teams in discussions. That is what I observed,” said Mwakasungura, a member of Silver Strikers technical team.
Chiukepo Msowoya, Allan Kamanga, Fischer Kondowe, Joseph Kamwendo and Dave Banda are some of Malawian professionals who have failed to survive South African professional football for one reason or another.