While football and netball associations have enough funds to fulfil their crucial assignments before the next government financial year, minority sports programmes have stagnated due to inadequate funding, Weekend Nation has established.
The contrast clearly highlights the deep discrepancies in sports resources distribution, triggering fears that the situation could discourage minority sports development.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) had previously asked for extra government funding—after exhausting their allocations—mostly to finance national team activities.
However, half-way through the 2017/18 financial year, FAM general secretary (GS) Alfred Gunda said they still have funds to fulfil their programmes, which include 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying games and Under-20 international assignments.
FAM in the previous budget received K34 million, but saw the figure jump to K300 million in the current one—a lion’s share of the funds allocated to sports associations—most of which have seen their grants stagnate for years.
“Our projection is that we will play all the remaining games without asking government for extra funds. This just shows that the grants we received from government were far much better than the previous years,” he said.
Flames face Cameroon and Morocco in their next Afcon assignments while there will also be Africa Under-20 Championship preliminary qualifiers, which Gunda said Malawi will compete in.
“It has been a good year for us. With the resources we were given, we managed to play Championship of African Nations (Chan) and Afcon qualifiers. Our junior teams also played in various tournaments. Beach soccer national team played in an international tournament while the women football team also played abroad,” he said.
NAM GS Carol Bapu, whose association received K200 million in the budget which Parliament approved in June, said they have been comfortable financially.
During the financial year, Malawi national netball team played at the Fast5 World Netball Series and also played in Test series against England.
“The biggest programme that remains on our calendar are the Commonwealth Games, which will be played in April. The resources that remain are enough to cater for preparations and participation,” she said.
“The additional programme is training for technical people such as umpires and administrators. This is an area we may need to source extra funding.”
Both FAM and NAM said, due to technical challenges, details regarding the amount of money that has been spent from their 2017/18 allocation could only be available next week.
On the contrary, minority sports administrators have said most of their programmes have stagnated because the resources they received were not enough.
Lawn Tennis Association of Malawi (Ltam) GS Stan Kaunda said they have plans to improve infrastructure and the sport from the grass roots.
“We received K1.5 million and it will be channelled to youth tennis programmes which will be carried out this year. The other programmes such as adult tournaments and infrastructure development will either need extra funding or they will not be implemented at all,” he said.
Kaunda said although they appreciate that government has pertinent areas that need funding, he called for more funding.
“Football has not been doing well, but why do we continue to give FAM a lot of money? Can’t we focus on other disciplines that have potential to shine at international level and pour our resources there? Look at Ethiopia, they support athletics a lot because that is where they earn international glory,” he said.
Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) president Hamlet Kamtengeni said Malawi has not played an international game for nearly seven years because the association does not receive enough funding.
“Our national team has been dormant for years. We wonder why netball and football teams get government support when some of the sports disciplines do not. We wish we were able to play friendly matches and play in international competitions,” he said.
Basmal received K1.7 million in the prevailing budget.
Boxing Association of Malawi (Maba) president Justice Katika said the K800 000 government grant was largely directed to administrative operations.
“We, literally, don’t have money to running coaching courses or buying equipment. But we can’t manage to achieve all that with the meagre resources available,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana confirmed that inadequate funding led to some associations’ failure to implement their programmes.
“Some programmes might have not been implemented because associations may have gotten themselves into programmes that required more resources than they had and they had not gone out to secure additional resources to cushion the demand,” he said.
MNCS, which oversees the distribution of sports grants, has expressed hope that there will come a time when all associations will enjoy a better share from the budget.
Said Jana in an e-mailed response to our questionnaire: “Hope is definitely there that at one time everyone will be happy, including those that you refer to as minority sport…slowly we should be moving to a period when all must be happy.”
He, however, said football and netball have had adequate resources in the financial year because they have established other avenues of raising additional funds.
“One needs to notice that the two associations (FAM and NAM) have been able to secure additional financial support from other quarters which has helped to reduce their dependence on government. It is, therefore, time that the other associations are also able to secure such other additional financing,” he said.