Despite Football Association of Malawi (FAM) presidential candidates launching their manifestos and selling their ideas at a debate recently, affiliates have maintained support for the aspirants they endorsed during the nomination process last month.
At the elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Mangochi this Saturday, incumbent FAM president Walter Nyamilandu will face Wilkins Mijiga and Willy Yabwanya Phiri.
The contestants launched their football commercialisation driven manifestos in Lilongwe last week before facing off in a debate organised by television and radio operator Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS).
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Innocent Bottoman said other candidates’ manifestos did not sway his committee to shift their support away from Mijiga.
“We still believe that he is the best candidate in these elections. His ideas which are aimed at marketing the sport are the best in as far as Sulom is concerned,” he said.
Among other promises, Mijiga said he would transform football by ensuring that the sport is generating much wealth which would create lucrative careers for footballers, coaches and affiliates.
Meanwhile, National Football Referees Committee (NFRC) general secretary Chris Kalichero said despite going through the manifestos of the other candidates, Yabwanya, who they anointed, remains their preferred aspirant.
“We will vote for Yabwanya because we believe he is the person with ideas to improve football from the grass roots level,” he said. “The clearest sign of his commitment to development football is his sponsorship towards Karonga United.”
Among other developments, the Canada-based candidate has promised to improve football at grass roots and offer bursaries to players who want to upgrade academically.
On their part, chairpersons of the three regional associations—Lameck Khonje (North), Raphael Humba (South) and Austin Ajawa (Centre) — said their support for Nyamilandu has not wavered, saying he is still the right person to move football forward.
“We have listened to the manifestos of all the contestants and our association still feels that the incumbent has what it takes to further improve the game,” Khonje said.
On his part, Ajawa said: “We went through the manifestos of the three presidential aspirants and followed the debate that was organised by [ZBS], but Walter remains our choice because of his vibrant agenda to improve the game further. We are not moving an inch backwards.”
Nyamilandu has founded his campaign on commercialising the elite Super League, building a strong foundation for grass roots football, maximising marketing and broadcasting rights, optimisation of revenue from existing facilities, curbing violence and hooliganism, infrastructure development, acquisition of more sponsors and partners and a robust gate management system.
Sulom, which contributes the highest number of affiliates (eight) nominated Mijiga, the national referees body which contributes two delegates, nominated Yabwanya while the other seven affiliates— three regional associations (six each), National Women Football Committee (two), Beach Soccer (two), National Youth Football Committee (two) and National Football Coaches Committee (two)—nominated Nyamilandu. n