World football governing body Fifa has commended Football Association of Malawi (FAM) for successful implementation and utilisation of Forward Programme funds to transform Mpira Village at Chiwembe in Blantyre.
Fifa says the FAM model is worth emulating by other member associations.
Fifa football facilities and income generation programmes manager Daniel Krebs underscored the importance of infrastructure in football development yesterday during the opening of the Fifa infrastructure workshop at Protea Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre.
Malawi was the first African nation to qualify for the newly-introduced programme which other member associations receiving $1.2 million (about K880 million) per year over a four-year period for various projects.
“Malawi has just finished the technical centre upgrade which was funded by Fifa Forward Programme. So this is a great case study to show other countries how these funds can be used. We have invited 15 countries across Africa to see what Malawi has done,” he said.
Krebs said infrastructure is the “bread and butter” of football.
“Fifa and its Forward Programme is supporting all national associations. One critical part of this development is infrastructure. “Without pitches, stadiums, technical centres, FA headquarters, it’s not possible to run football around the world,” he said.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who is also Fifa council member, said Malawi’s success story is a result of diligent planning.
“We had a solid plan as far as infrastructure is concerned. We did not spread our entire infrastructure across the country. We tried and concentrated them in one area. That way it was easy to see progress from one project to another,” he said.
The FAM president also thanked various stakeholders for their role in ensuring that the projects succeed.
Said Nyamilandu: “The other thing is that we have good support from Malawi Government. When we wanted land, we were able to get it. It’s always important that when you have an infrastructure programme, you build on land that you have. We are running the game of football and we must understand that there are key players and we must engage them.
“Our role in developing football cannot be successful if we don’t have strong relationship with all the various players such as Ministry of Land, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government and city councils and also a good relationship with the politicians. We have a good relationship with these stakeholders.”
He said Fifa’s decision to have Malawi host the workshop is a vote of confidence.
“It shows how we impressed Fifa in terms of infrastructure development. Malawi has been a model in terms of infrastructure development and for Fifa to grant us this hosting exercise just shows that we are doing a commendable job.
“This workshop will also help shape the future of infrastructure in Malawi. We will tap knowledge from various general secretaries from football associations that are here and other experts such as engineers and architects on how to develop infrastructure in our country,” he said.
Twenty-six delegates from Cape Verde, Eritrea, e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland), Gambia, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda are attending the workshop.