Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has changed the season calendar from March-December to August-May as the association prepares for resumption of football suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The association’s general secretary Alfred Gunda said they have taken advantage of the delayed kick-off to permanently align the football calendar to international standard as previously recommended by Fifa and Confederation of African Football (CAF).
In its proposal presented yesterday to government through Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, FAM said it wants the season to kick off on August 8 2020 and conclude on May 30 2021.
FAM plans to announce resumption of training by teams in small groups and mandatory Covid-19 testing of all players on June 19 before full training resumes on June 29 and pre-season friendly matches by mid July.
Reads the proposal in part: “FAM will maintain a nine or 10-month calendar meaning kicking off in August and ending in May 2021. The nine weeks in between will give FAM ample time to lobby and thoroughly consult and seek guidance for go-ahead from all relevant stakeholders. The period will be enough to give teams training plans for a proper off-season preparations; a team needs at least six weeks to prepare for a season,”
FAM said this “will work to the plan of aligning Malawi football calendar with the new CAF and Fifa”.
However, the association is also mindful of the challenge that the season will clash with the rainy season which could lead to postponement of matches due to water-logged pitches.
The proposal reads: “The calendar will also go through the rainy season raising fears of a number of postponed and abandoned matches.
“To mitigate the crammed calendar and rain fears, the following should be considered: Some adjustments to the fixtures with more midweek matches; a four-week break between December and January to mitigate the rain factors. Between December and February fixing of matches should take into consideration rainy patterns in the country i.e. it rains heavily in the South in December and in the North in January and February.”
Meanwhile, clubs have welcomed the proposal, saying it will work to the advantage of Malawi football.
In his reaction, Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said time has come for Sulom to reconsider changing the calendar.
He said: “Malawi cannot be working in isolation. Tanzania and Zambia already changed and their respective season start in August. I do not know if we will ever have a once off approach of solving this calendar issue.
“We simply have to do the needful and align ourselves with the international calendar. If the season doesn’t kick off by end of this month the country will be left with no other option at all.”
Silver Strikers chief executive officer Thokozani Chimbali also had the same sentiments on Malawi having its calendar not aligned to the international one.
“The only reason why we stick to our calendar is the quality of our playing fields during rainy season,” he said.
Malawi is the one of the few countries in Africa that has a calendar that runs from March to December despite Fifa and CAF recommending the change.
The timing of the international calendar is coordinated with international competitions such as Afcon and the World Cup.
The international calendar also dictates the opening and closing of the international transfer window.