After snoring on gold for over three years, missing estimated revenue of over K1 million (about $3 235) a month, FAM is set to finally commercialise the idle Chiwembe Technical Centre next month with Carlsberg Malawi among the major stakeholders in the drive.
Carlsberg Malawi, who sponsor a national cup as well as giants Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers have pledged to help in the setting up of a top-class Chiwembe lounge bar which will be one of the first main commercial activities at the centre.
The company’s brands manager (alcoholics) Twikale Chirwa and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed the development in separate interviews recently.
“FAM are our major stakeholder in football and we noted they have a good facility and infrastructure that can be utilised to make a lot of revenue, but was just staying idle.
“So, we want to help them set up a top-class bar that side and make money while promoting the game as we have done with Bullets and Wanderers clubs. We have the expertise and resources to set a bar and if they have proper management, it can turn out to be one of the top bars in town,” said Chirwa.
Nyirenda said during their management meeting on Wednesday, they agreed to commercialise the idle centre by next month.
He admitted in an interview that the association has been sleeping on gold by failing to turn the facility into a commercial entity which has the potential to raise over K15 million (about $44 117) a year.
“There was no will power to get this project rolling. That was because we had a number of commitments and running a commercial entity looked demanding and unachievable.
“But after engaging a business consultant, it has transpired that it could be a viable and profitable venture. The consultant has even developed a business plan for us and it shows we can make a lot of millions.
“Carlsberg Malawi have agreed to come on board for the bar project which, in the early stages, will be the main commercial activity,” he said.
Situated in Blantyre’s township, the facility has a conference room, an auditorium, 26 bedrooms, seven spacious offices, a boardroom, a kitchen, bar, shop and an IT room.
Unlike other technical centres in countries such as Zambia and Lesotho which are some of the busiest conference and lodging centres, Chiwembe is quite and deserted like a morgue.
“We will appoint a manager specifically for running of the facility. We have ordered gym equipment from South Africa while the second Puma consignment will be for the shop,” he added.
However, the main challenge will be the refurbishment of goal project one, whose substandard room make the facility unattractive to outside clients and even national teams’ camping.
The rooms have single beds and some of them are not self-contained. They are also not furnished with TV and fridges as is the case with all other goal projects in Africa.
Fifa has pledged to fund the project of turning the hostels into hotel standard with a funding of K20 million (about $58 823).
According to information at FAM, Zambia FA make a minimum of $10 000 (about K3.5 million) monthly from their technical centres’ commercial activities.
As a result of the poor state of the hostels, FAM is forced to put the national teams in hotels which are costly while in other countries, the centres are bases for national teams’ camps