The weather was unbearable at the sun-baked Chikwawa Community Ground on Saturday, but soccer lovers braved the scorching sun to witness the finals of the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLWT)’s Kafukufuku Festival.
It was over 40 degrees Celsius—too hot for sunbathing—but for over 90 minutes, the about 5 000 people gathered around the pitch and did not appear uncomfortable with the heat as they watched the game that saw Belonjigo carry the day with a 1-0 triumph over Hot Stars.
On the pitch, save for Alfred White’s brilliant run that led to the priceless goal eight minutes to time, the finalists displayed the less-entertaining ping-pong style of football in desperation for ultimate glory.
Nevertheless, this did not put off the soccer lovers, some of whom cheered on the teams as sweat trickled down their faces.
The event also gave people an opportunity to access free health education and services such as HIV self-testing and family planning in tents Population Services International (PSI), Jhpiego, Majete Malaria Project, One Community, Partners in Hope and Chikwawa District Health Office erected at the venue.
“We are happy to have achieved our goals of using the power of football to help hard-to-reach males aged between 14 and 22 with messages that promote better understanding of health issues and build a good relationship between our researchers and the communities,” said MLWT associate director Janelisa Musaya.
Liverpool Football Club (LFC) Foundation community engagement lead Karl Carney, whose organisation partnered the trust alongside Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to engage the communities in health research, said the festival will use football as a tool for disseminating health messages in the district up to 2020.
At least 32 teams took part in the knockout football competition that saw the champions taking home a glittering trophy, medals and LFC-branded football uniforms.
Hardson Mbaka, coach for eventual champions Belonjigo, said they were happy to be the inaugural champions of the annual event.