Football Association of Malawi (FAM) says key developmental programmes will not be affected by the association’s decision to channel its Fifa Forward funding towards Covid-19 Relief Fund.
FAM at its emergency executive committee meeting decided to channel K265 million from its $500 000 (K375 million) operational support funds, towards Covid-19 relief funds.
This follows recommendations made by a task force the association instituted to do a situation analysis of the effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on football.
The task force found that football will be hugely affected by the coronavirus and that FAM should establish a Covid-19 response relief fund as a shock absorber of the effects of the pandemic.
The task force gave FAM three options on where to get the money for the relief funds—redirection of Fifa funds, waiting for Fifa Covid-19 Relief Fund and engaging Malawi Government for funding.
“The Fifa president has hinted that Fifa will exercise flexibility in the release and use of operational support funds to MAs [member associations] which is comforting. The operational funds per year is $1 000 000 on top of other project tagged funds. “After a review of the available funds and prioritisation of the outstanding activities between now and December, the task force proposes the redirection of budget lines for the following activities as the principal plan. Based on the tentative budget outline the targeted amount is K 265 640 000,” a report by the task force reads in part.
Some fo the programmes that use the Fifa funds are Fifa Under-15 League, girls and boys grass roots football, football academy project, coaches and referees training and beach soccer.
Fifa pumps in K30 million for the Under-15 while grass roots football for both boys and girls is allocated about K18 million.
Beach soccer was allocated K38 million meant for the national team and national league but K20 million from the funds will now go towards the Covid-19 funds.
Funding for coaches and referees education has also been diverted towards the relief funds.
“Fifa under-15 and grassroots football initiatives and other youth related activities will need more time to return. For Fifa Under-15, it will take long for the environment to be safe for parents to allow their children travel across the country for football games in minibuses. We recommend pushing this league to next season.
“Beach soccer has got only one sponsor—FAM, under Fifa Forward. Therefore, we still need some funds to support the local league at the minimum and forfeit the annual Tanzania competition,” reads the report from the task force.
The task force also proposed holding just one training course for referees and coaches.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the association cannot afford to jeopardise the initiatives.
“These special projects relating to the football academy, Under-15 leagues, grassroots football are for the long term; hence, very crucial to our growth and development agenda. Our future depends on them; hence, they will be activated when the situation normalises.
“All the programmes will resume as soon as we are free from Covid-19 pandemic. It could be sooner or later depending on when Malawi Government will lift the restrictions on social gatherings.
“Suffice to say that there is a chance that our Fifa projects that have been sacrificed could be re-launched earlier than expected depending on the situation,” he said.
But Nyamilandu also acknowledged the challenge of using the Fifa operational funds, saying the association cannot afford to prolong the bailout beyond December 31 2020.