Uncertainty hangs over the future of the K890 million (about $1.27million) multi-purpose indoor sports complex project as government has been failing to fund the initiative whose plans were drawn up over four years ago.
Ministry of Sports and Culture spokesperson Christopher Mbukwa, through an e-mail response to a questionnaire, confirmed the lack of funding for the project.
Once constructed, the structure’s key beneficiary would be netball, the second most followed sporting discipline in the country. Other benefactors would be minority sports such as tennis, boxing and squash.
Mbukwa said for the past four years, the ministry has been persistently requesting for funds from government’s Public Sector Investment Plan (PSIP), which he said has not been considerate.
“The drawings and the land earmarked for a multi-purpose indoor sports complex are available, but the funds are not,” he said.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson said the ministry would continue to ask for the funding from the PSIP where “we are hoping that during the 2016/2017 financial year, we may get a green light to start the project.”
“The sports complex is the next big project the ministry would like to embark on after the completion of the Bingu National Stadium (BNS),” he said, adding: “We are contacting all the relevant would-be financiers of the project.”
Among the potential financiers the ministry is seeking support from, according to Mbukwa, is China, which also bankrolled the construction of the modern BNS in Lilongwe.
Meanwhile, the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rose Chinunda said the project’s delay has hindered players from being exposed to modern courts which are used during the international tournaments.
“The surfaces local teams use are old and rough, but when we go to international tournaments, the courts are different which affect our game,” she said. “The sports complex was our only hope.”
Chinunda also said the lack of modern netball courts means it was impossible to bid for hosting of international games which would in turn earn the country recognition and boost its tourism sector.
“When a country hosts such games, it enjoys international publicity and again the participating teams are like tourists. But all these opportunities are not being utilised because of we don’t have good venues,” she said.
The sports complex construction is expected to take three years before completion.
Queens captain Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira said the Queens are often exposed at international tournaments due to lack of modern courts on the local scene.
If completed, it would take the number of sports complexes to two. The other is College of Medicine in Blantyre where most teams complain that it is too expensive for their pockets.n