- Suspends recruitment of Flames coach
Push comes to shove. Football Association of Malawi (FAM) yesterday dropped a bombshell when it announced that it will withdraw Flames participation in both the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and the 2018 Championship of African Nations (Chan) due to lack of funds.
FAM has also suspended the recruitment of the Flames coach until such a time that Government has adequate resources to fund such recruitment.
The resolutions were made at the association’s executive committee meeting held in Lilongwe on Saturday.
Part of the press release issued by the association yesterday signed by general secretary Alfred Gunda, reads: “During several rounds of consultations and discussions it was very clear that due the current economic problems, the government will not be able to provide funding for the team for its participation in the two tournaments.
“It was also apparent that due to the current programmes that FAM was implementing in infrastructure and technical development, women’s football, grass roots and youth football and others, it was not going to be possible either for FAM to bail out the current situation, as it has previously done on numerous occasions.
“[And therefore], Having considered all the available options, and in accordance with required notices for withdrawal, it was further resolved that the Malawi national team be withdrawn from Chan competition by March 31 and from Afcon by April 30 2017, due to lack of funding.”
The statement further reads: “The current huge gaps and shortfalls of our senior national team can only be addressed through recruitment of a well-trained and highly experienced expatriate coach.”
FAM also stated that in view of the development and being its core responsibility with the support and funding from Fifa and CAF, it will intensify and dedicate all its efforts and resources towards football development programmes.
“Special emphasis will be placed on coaching, grass roots and youth football. Accordingly, FAM will recruit a highly qualified and experienced director of football to lead these development programmes.
“It is expected that the director of football is going to fully develop the game at the grass roots and youth level so that a strong Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 national teams can be developed. These are expected to feed in the senior team as and when funding becomes available.
“It is further expected that the director of football is going to train and capacitate our local coaches for them to ably take over responsibility for the senior national team as and when it becomes active.
FAM also states that it is fully aware of the negative implications including fines and suspension such withdrawal may attract.
“However, in its consideration, such withdrawal and its negative implications cannot be avoided looking at the current level of desperation that the senior national team is in terms of funding and overall support.”
And in an interview yesterday, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said: “The national team has been ignored for a very long time yet we have a tremendous potential as a country. The trend in reducing funding has continued unabated and without any regard to the future of the national teams.
“This poses a threat to the beautiful game and it’s painful to any soccer loving Malawian.”
However, reacting to the development, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa said while he appreciated FAM’s decision to suspend hiring of an expatriate coach due to the current tough economic climate, he described the resolution to pull out from the tournaments as hasty.
“Looking at the financial predicament in which we are, we cannot manage to hire an expatriate until the situation improves, but the move to withdraw has been done hastily because it is an issue that needed our input as a mother ministry. I mean why have we not considered an experienced local coach while maintaining our participation?
“Consultations have not been exhaustive. The ministry should have been party to this decision, my expectations were that they would submit their resolutions to us before issuing the press statement,” said the minister.
But soccer commentator George Kaudza Masina hailed FAM for the move, saying: “It is one of the wisest decisions that FAM has made in years. There is lack of political will towards the national team and as a result, for a long time it has been taking part in tournaments just for the sake of participating.
“In fact the decision by FAM to switch to development is long overdue and that is the way to go. We should not force matters because as it is, I do not think we are ready,” he said.
On his part, Flames captain Limbikani Mzava said: “It is a huge setback. Personally, I saw it coming because the signs were not encouraging. First, the recruitment process of the coach was taking time and then there was the uncertainty about funding. I am only praying that something will crop up to ensure that we take part in these tournaments.”