Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) is set to lose over K4 million for failing to source over K40 000 meant for adjusting the route on the return air-ticket of athletics coach Precious Chigoneka.
This comes after the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) demanded a refund following AAM’s failure to send athlete Mercy Malembo to the just-ended IAAF World Under-18 Athletics Championships in Kenya despite the world athletics governing body providing her with a return air-ticket, accommodation and food.
AAM is expected to refund IAAF over K2 million. The local athletics mother body has also lost similar amount of money, which could be a participation grant in Kenya.
However, according to AAM general secretary Frank Chitembeya, they needed Chigoneka to accompany Malembo at the Kenyan event before proceeding with her to the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas this week but the Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) failed to fulfil its promise, making the changes on the coach’s air-ticket.
“We realised that Malembo, as a primary school pupil, could not afford to go to Kenya alone. We, therefore, requested MOC to help us with making the adjustments on Chigoneka’s air-ticket since they had already bought his return air-ticket to the Bahamas,” he said.
“They [MOC] assured us that everything would be done until they changed tune two days before the departure date. This put us in a fix as it was too late to find alternative solutions and we decided not to send Malembo to Kenya.”
Chitembeya said although the changes on the coach’s air-ticket required only over K40 000, MOC was the only eligible entity to apply for the adjustments since they were the ones that bought the air ticket.
He added that they were also confident of MOC’s possible assistance considering that the committee recently promised to support athletes that show great potential at international events.
In spite of that, MOC administration manager Naomi Chinatu yesterday shifted the blame to AAM.
“We told them [AAM] on the same day they presented their request that we could not make the changes because we did not have ample time for such an arrangement. Moreover, they have themselves to blame for their failure because they are the ones that own the athlete; we do not deal with athletes directly but associations,” she said.
On her part, Malembo, who won gold in 3000m race at the Southern Africa Senior Track and Field Championship in Zimbabwe a month ago, said she is disappointed with the failure of her trip but expressed hope that nothing like this would happen in the future.