Sports Minister Enoch Chihana has said Malawi’s Blantyre-based football powerhouses should feel ashamed that they do not have stadiums of their own.
Chihana said this when he reopened Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday.
He made a direct reference to Mighty Wanderers and Big Bullets whom he said, for over 40 years of their existence, they have failed to build even mini-stadiums.
“This facility [stadium] belongs to government, clubs are totally independent entities and you have to build your own stadiums and not force government to dance to your tune over its property.
“If Wanderers and Bullets have no stadiums, don’t blame government, blame the forefathers and past administrators of your respective teams,” said Chihana.
He was reacting to a section of the football fans’ recent move to demonstrate against government’s delay to reopen the stadium.
“Some of the teams were formed in the early 1960s and yet they have no stadium; it is a sorry state,” he said.
The minister said if Nomads and Bullets had started a gradual process of constructing stadiums 30 years ago, then they could have had fully-fledged structures by now.
“In fact, there was a time when both Wanderers and Bullets were given land, but they even failed to develop simple training grounds and we do not know what happened to the land. It is all because they just want someone to donate an already built stadium which is not on,” said Chihana.
Reacting to the minister’s statement both Bullets and Wanderers described it as a political statement.
Nomads chairperson George Chamangwana said while he partly agreed with the minister’s observation, he felt government should also share the blame for not supporting clubs to become independent entities.
Said Chamangwana: “Why hasn’t government made an effort to provide us with land so that we could gradually develop it?
“Government also needs to come up with a deliberate policy in order to encourage the private sector to invest in football as is the case in other countries such as Zambia.”
However, Chamangwana was quick to point out that plans are currently underway for the Nomads to acquire land and develop it gradually.
“Those plans are in the pipeline, but we’ll also require government support,” he said.
His Bullets counterpart Malinda Chinyama blamed both government and FAM for failing to push for laws that would ensure independence of clubs.
“That is just a political statement, maybe he has not studied the situation on the ground to understand the problems that clubs face.
“He needs to realise that Bullets and Wanderers are considered as community clubs and hence they are not protected by law. There is need for government and FAM to push for the enactment of laws whereby teams can become independent entities. It is certainly not a healthy statement coming from government,” said Chinyama.
Nevertheless, the Bullets boss said plans are also currently underway to acquire land where they can construct a stadium of their own bit by bit.
“To that effect, we already made an application to Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) and we hope government will assist ,” he said.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Innocent Bottomani said they would engage all stakeholders to see how best the issue can be tackled.
“The statement that the minister made was indeed important, but there is need to look into it critically,” said Bottomani.