Minister of Youth and Sports Richard Chimwendo Banda has assured Football Association of Malawi (FAM) of government’s support towards the Flames’ participation in the 2022 African Nations Championship (Chan).
The assurance comes after FAM last week announced its intention to withdraw from the continental contest, which is for local-based players, due to inadequate funding and hinted at seeking the minister’s intervention on the matter.
The Flames were drawn against Zimbabwe’s Warriors in the first round of the Chan qualifiers set to kick off on July 22. Malawi risks a ban from Chan and other tournaments if it fails to compete after the draw has already been done.
During his first official meetings with FAM and the Sports Council yesterday, Chimwendo Banda said there is no way the Malawi National Football Team can fail to compete following their impressive performance at the January African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon.
He said: “There is nothing that is going to fail. Last year, they [FAM] can testify that the government spent outside the budget because we appreciated the need for Flames’ participation in competitions.
“Let me assure Malawians that the Flames will not fail to participate in Chan. This government will not allow them to fail. They made us proud at Afcon finals and we cannot let them down.”
However, he emphasised on the need for the corporate world to support the Flames and other national teams such as the Malawi National Netball Team, the Queens.
The minister has since directed the Malawi National Council of Sports to call for a meeting for all sports associations and the corporate world within the next three months to brainstorm sports development.
Said Chimwendo Banda: “For example, you can see the Flames might fail to compete in Afcon qualifiers or Chan due to lack of between K300 million and K500 million, yet we have entities such as telecommunication companies and banks posting billions of Kwacha in profits in the country.
“It is not on to leave the burden of financing sports to the government alone. We need the companies to come and support the Flames, the Queens, volleyball and other disciplines.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu Manda yesterday said it was a huge relief that the government is committed to support the Flames.
He added that without government’s support, the Flames cannot participate in competitions.
FAM have been allocated K300 million annually from the national budget for the past five years.
Sports Council board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise said they will do the needful to arrange the sports conference, which he said is crucial for sports development.