England is seeking to mend footballing relations with Malawi years after the European nation cut off its wide-ranging material and practical assistance to her former colony, Weekend Nation has learnt.
Confirming the pending deal, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) director of competitions and communication Gomezgani Zakazaka said that the English Football Association (FA), through the British High Commission, had requested for a proposal outlining the areas that need its intervention.
In an interview on Tuesday, Zakazaka said: “They have asked us to choose support towards women football, disability football, youth leadership and provision of equipment.”
In the previous setup, the FA’s international relations programme delivered developmental assistance to Malawi through the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) and Confederation of African Football (CAF) Meridian Project.
The project established cooperations between European national football associations and their counterparts in Africa.
As part of the scheme, the FA delivered a wide range of courses in Malawi and some African countries ranging from football administration, refereeing, youth coaching to women’s football.
Through the programme, England also hosted the Malawi national football team for two weeks in 2001 in an all paid up training camp and provided coaches such as Michael Hennigan.
Meanwhile, Zakazaka says they have proposed that the FA should focus its support on women football because they already have programmes related to the sector.
“From the four areas, they asked us to choose one and we settled for women football. This is because we already have programmes running in that aspect. Currently, we don’t have disability football and youth leadership programmes, so it was going to be difficult to go into that,” he said.
In the proposal which FAM is drafting, the association wants the FA to render support in grassroots women football, coaching and provision of equipment towards the sport.
“Women football is growing and we believe that if we get such support we could have strong structures and build a formidable national team,” Zakazaka
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who was among those close to the partnership, said England withdrew its support towards African countries after the failed World Cup bid.
“They withdrew support from Africa because Africa didn’t support their bid to host the 2010 World Cup,” he said.
Nyamilandu, however, said he does not have reservations over the English FA’s renewed partnership interest.
In 2010, England lost the bidding contest to Russia and its support for football programmes in developing countries systematically stopped.
But football analyst George Kaudza Masina viewed England’s request for renewed partnership with Malawi as a ploy to garner support for a future cause.
“They might be looking at a bigger picture for future collaborations. Ambitious FAs like the English would like to have numbers in case of voting for hosting of the World Cup hosting rights,” he said.
Another football expert Felix Ngamanya Sapao said Malawi did not benefit much from the English FA.
“Malawi benefited by having our coaches trained by the FA. We are yet to see the benefits on the ground,” he said.
“But if one is to do a comparative study of Sepp Blatter’s Meridian partnership as it was called, the countries that had Germany and Holland as their partners benefited more.”
Sapao, however, said he does not have reservations on the FA supporting women football.