President Peter Mutharika yesterday pledged to donate team buses to domestic football powerhouses Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
Mutharika made the pledge when he presided over the ground-breaking ceremony of the two clubs’ stadium project construction in Blantyre.
The President’s gesture followed a request from the two clubs’ officials earlier despite government removing duty on importation of buses for TNM Super League and netball clubs.
Mutharika first laid the foundation stones for Bullets Stadium at Zingwangwa near Moneymen along Chikwawa Road before proceeding to Kanjedza Forest near Blantyre Teachers College for the Nomads’ stadium, before proceeding to Nyambadwe ground in Ndirande for a launch rally.
Speaking during the rally, Mutharika who said he used to play as a centre-half, said he is keen to see football developing in the country.
“N’nabwela kuno last year ndinachita promise kuti ine ndimanga stadium. Ine ndikalonjeza zimachitika. Ndiye zachitika [When I came here last year I promised to build the two stadiums for the two clubs. When I make a promise I fulfil it],” he said.
The President said Bullets and Wanderers deserved the government’s help, having produced top players such as Kinnah Phiri, Lawrence Waya, Jack Chamangwana, Yassin Osman, Chance Vinny Gondwe, Kennedy Malunga, Walter Nyamilandu, Joseph Kamwendo and Peter Mponda.
In his speech, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso said the ground-breaking ceremony proved Mutharika’s government commitment to develop sports.
The sports minister also justified the use of public funds for the private entities, saying they too also have a right to benefit from the taxes they pay.
“Whether someone likes it or not the stadiums will be built],” he said.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu thanked Mutharika saying the projects will help ease financial problems for the two clubs.
He said: “It has taken 50 years for the two clubs to have stadiums. As the football fraternity, we are grateful for this gesture. We will never forget you, even in the near future.”
Nyamilandu also thanked Mutharika for increasing Presidential Initiative on Sports sponsorship from K120 million to K400 million and allowing clubs to purchase team buses duty free every five years.
In his speech, Nyasa Big Bullets director Fleetwood Haiya while thanking Mutharika for the two stadiums, also asked the President to consider increasing annual subvention to clubs sponsored by the government.
He also called for government to relax tax on sponsorship.
“The companies that sponsor clubs are already taxed, but if they sponsor a club that money is also taxed at 30 percent,” he said.
Wanderers general secretary Owen Maunde also asked Mutharika to help them pay debt accumulated during the participation in CAF Champions League.
“If you don’t help us pay this debt, our club is doomed,” he said.