In an effort to discourage TNM Super League clubs’ over-reliance on old guards at the expense of up-and-coming talent, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) plans to introduce a policy which will require clubs to register not less than five youth players with at least two featured in every match.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said in an interview yesterday that the clubs, in search of instant results, have fallen into the trap of depending on ‘veterans’ who are past their prime.
“It’s disappointing that most TNM Super League teams are not giving a chance to young players to realise their full potential. They keep ignoring young talented players and end up frustrating their careers.
“This is a big threat to the development of football because the youth are the future. We must learn from the recent exploits at the World Cup where most of the teams that did well invested strongly in their squads by rebuilding their teams,” he said.
The FAM president said coaches are to blame for the situation, adding that their tactics are not up to scratch.
Said Nyamilandu: “Our coaches have a problem in the sense that they want tried and tested players all the time because they are not able to spot genuine talent that can sustain the teams for a long time. I am wary of the young blood that is floating around in Under-17 and Under-20 [national teams] that they won’t have a receptive environment when they graduate.”
As a solution, Nyamilandu said the policy, which will be under club licensing, will ensure teams accommodate youth players.
“We are looking at enforcing a youth policy through registration of players by Super League teams. This has been enforced well in the Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia leagues. In Egypt it’s five Under-21s,” he said.
But some Super League clubs have described the proposed policy as a ‘fallacy’.
Silver Strikers general secretary (GS) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda argued that the policy was tantamount to ‘micromanaging the clubs’.
He said: “There has been no research conducted that found that what contributes to poor football standards is lack of interest by clubs to feature Under-20 players. Football development is a gradual process which starts with grassroots level all the way to professional football.
“The proposal is like putting the cart before the horse. For a club to win matches, they have to field their best team. Further, there are competitions for the Under-20 players which have not been properly supported. There should be proper funding for the Under-20 and Under-17 Leagues.”
Be Forward Wanderers GS Mike Butao said the idea was impractical.
He said: “That’s a good idea, but not practical. It is proving difficult in itself just to make every Super League club have a youth team. And the youth players playing in the FMB Under-20 are 16-year-olds or so.
“To push these straight into Super League would kill them. I think we need to explore other ways to improve the standards. FAM can call for an indaba or set up a task force to periodically to review our standards of football and map the way forward.”
But soccer analyst George Chiusiwa noted that Super League clubs were still stuck in old-fashioned football despite the abundance of up-and-coming talent from Under-20 and Under-17.
“I have watched the current Malawi Under-20 and Under-17 team playing on a number of occasions. The boys are a marvel to watch. At domestic youth football level, one feasts their eyes to beautiful football in the FMB Under-20 League—another progressive and promising youth initiative.
In all these cited cases, one thing is common—these young boys are playing better football than what we watch in the Super League.”