Tigresses have secured a K2 million (about $5 000) annual sponsorship from the College of Medicine (CoM) Sports Complex and are now called Complex Tigresses.
The netball side has been struggling for five months after parting ways with Bingu wa Mutharika’s Bineth Trust.
Last Saturday, they celebrated in style the signing of a year-long renewable contract when they beat their sworn rivals and OG Issa defending champions Diamonds 41-28 at the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
Tigresses have since won the first round of the OG Issa Southern Region Netball League (SRNL).
According to Sports Complex finance and administration manager Chris Chilembwe, their package will initially deal with all areas to do with the team’s access to fitness facilities at the High Performance Gym and the hiring of a special instructor on the players’ diet.
“But as time goes, based on the performance of the team, Big Bullets FC trustees have dissolved the team’s executive and main supporters committees following months of internal wrangles.
The decision was made at a meeting which the trustees had with the supporters’ warring factions at their Mandala clubhouse in Blantyre on Saturday.
Board of trustees chairperson James Busile, his deputy Fred Kwacha and secretary Jim Kalua called for the meeting to find a solution on differences regarding the issue of elections.
Addressing the supporters, Busile said they expect the outgoing executive, comprising chairperson Malinda Chinyama and general secretary Higger Mkandawire, to produce a report by the end of this week on how they have been running the team.
Chinyama could not be reached for comment, but Mkandawire welcomed the dissolution of the two committees saying it will help to bring sanity to the club.
According to Busile, they decided to dissolve the committees after realising that the wrangles between the executive and the supporters were culminating into chaos.
“And the issue of Gaba’s transfer fees to South Africa’s Bloemfontein Celtic has been the main cause of these wrangles. We, therefore, ask the outgoing executive to show us the contractual agreement they made with the South African side to bring sanity back at the club,” said Busile.
Nevertheless, Mkandawire said they were grateful for what the trustees have done and they would cooperate on the trustees’ demands.
However, he expressed surprise on why they were not informed or called to the meeting that dissolved the committees.
He also wondered why after a long spell many people are now interested to be associated with the club which they deserted following the loss of sponsorship from former president Bakili Muluzi about a decade ago.
“You are the first one to call me on this issue. However, we will not cling on to power. We are ready to surrender everything that the trustees will require from us. We will produce the report as soon as possible,” said Mkandawire.
On his part, Kalua said: “To ensure transparency and smooth organisation of the elections for both the executive and the main supporters committees, it was agreed to immediately dissolve both bodies.
“It was agreed that the main supporters committee elections will be held on February 1 and the tentative venue is BAT ground.
“For all those that will contest for the top positions such as chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, vice-secretary and treasurer, they will be required to pay a non-refundable fee of K50 000 [about $125] each while those aspiring for committee membership positions will be required to pay K10 000 [$25] each.”
Kalua further disclosed that supporters will have to pay K1 000 (about $2.50) to qualify as a delegate and the proceeds will go towards arranging the meeting and paying players’ outstanding allowances.
“It was noted that a true Bullets supporter should be able to demonstrate his or her love for the team by paying that amount. It is also the first step in enforcing membership because the team’s former general secretary Gaston Mwenelupembe has volunteered to help us in preparing a document that will outline the roles of a supporter, the requirements and the benefits.
“The fee will also act as a control measure to restrict those that may want to take advantage of the situation to cause havoc,” he said.
Kalua said the cut-off point for submitting letters of interest to contest in the polls is January 28.
“The letters should be submitted to any of the trustees, but we would like to warn aspirants not to engage in mudslinging during the campaign period as that might lead to disqualification,” he said.
He added that the date for the executive committee elections will be determined after the main supporters committee has been put in place.
“As of now, all matters relating to the operations of the team should be referred to the trustees,” he said.
The club’s outgoing supporters committee secretary Frank ‘Nyau’ Msiska and the warring faction’s spokesperson Mabvuto Chibambo confirmed the resolutions.
Said Msiska: “We were party to all the resolutions and we are looking forward to peaceful and fair elections. Hopefully, there will be no mudslinging during the campaign period.”
Msiska also said he will seek re-election and has already started courting supporters in their respective zones to outline his agenda.
“It was a collective decision so that only those that are committed towards the team should contest. It is good because it will also go towards the players’ welfare,” said Chibambo who is set to face Msiska in the race for the position of secretary.
However, a Soche-based BB fan Rodrick Walesi described the K1 000 fee as being on the higher side.
“The reasons for coming up with a fee are understandable, but maybe for the delegates, they should have put it at K500 each and not K1 000,” he said.
The team’s outgoing supporters chairperson Geoff Mbalati could not be reached to confirm whether he will contest, but reports indicate that flamboyant former vice-chairperson Isaac Jomo Osman, has declared interest to contest for the hot seat.
The outgoing Bullets executive committee had Chinyama as chairperson, Gregory Madeya as first vice-chairperson and Austin Kasito as second vice-chairperson. n we will extend our support to other areas such as players’ upkeep allowances and transport to match venues. It is our wish to get associated with a winning team,” said Chilembwe.
Tigresses team manager Hellene Mpinganjira and coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua described the support as something that will transform them to a great side.
“If we manage to win crucial encounters without going into a gym, what more with enhancing our fitness any time every week at the Complex? I tell you, this is the start of something great. I do not think we will play second fiddle to any team in the country again,” said Mpinganjira.
Out of three competitions they participated in during the 2013/14 season, Tigresses won the Rainbow Paints Top Six Series Championships and are currently the favourites to win the OG Issa League title.
Tigresses were enjoying a K10 million annual sponsorship from Mutharika’s Bineth Trust until last August when his family severed ties with them. The former president came to their rescue three years after Admarc withdrew its sponsorship.