Fifa has approved the upgrading of Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) Mpira ground in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre into a fully fledged stadium under a Forward Project.
The project will see the current facility upgraded to a 10 000-seater stadium capable of hosting high-profile Super League matches, according to FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda.
“The project has finally been approved by Fifa. It will involve upgrading the stadium’s stands, construction of a car park and changing rooms,” he said.
Gunda said they had settled for a 10 000 capacity for the facility.
“We are meeting contracts to finalise the issue of capacity. There was an ambitious number of 15 000 capacity. Then there was a structural number that was coming up to about 12 000. But at the end of the day we should be talking of a realistic capacity of 10 000,” he said.
The project is expected to start early next year and complete within six months.
“It could have started right now, but, unfortunately, we are entering rainy season and festive period when contractors go for a break. So, it can’t start now, but by January, the project should start,” said Gunda.
Fifa Forward Project was introduced by the world football governing body’s new president Gianni Infantino, replacing Sepp Blatter’s Goal Project.
In the project, member associations that qualify receive $1.2 million per year over a four-year period for specific projects.
Malawi was the first African nation to qualify for the project and requested infrastructure development, which Fifa development committee approved.
According to a statement from Fifa, apart from the $750 000 annual funding, FAM will have access to $500 000 per year for specific projects.
The statement reads: “We are bringing together all of our football project support into one tailor-made contract of agreed objectives and a development plan to meet the specific needs and challenges of each association. This means our member associations receive comprehensive and intelligent support, depending on their circumstances and the priorities and objectives they set for themselves, so that we make the most out of every dollar spent on football.
“We will focus on priority areas for the growth of global football, such as playing infrastructure, women’s and youth football, and domestic competitions. We want to encourage best practice in football administration among our member associations, so that football has a strong foundation around the world.”
The Fifa approval of the project comes at a time when Southern Region-based teams, Blantyre in particular, are facing match venue problems following the closure of the Kamuzu Stadium for renovations. n