Malawi Government has pledged to offer all national soccer team players Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) houses as part of a drive to improve their welfare.
Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chakufwa Chihana has also given his word that Football Association of Malawiâ€™s request to review the teamâ€™s allowances and bonuses will be looked into.
That is not all. The minister has also pledged to work hand-in-hand with the national football governing body in the quest to find corporate sponsors for the Flames.
Chihana said there is need to motivate the players for them to give out their best for the cause of their motherland.
“We want to ensure that every regular national team player should be offered a [MHC] house and if we have a situation whereby a player cannot pay rentals, then we would come up with a way to handle it.
“The bottomline is that we want their welfare to be looked into because being national team players, they are national assets and they need to be motivated,” said Chihana.
Asked on the criteria to be used to determine players that deserve to be offered houses, Chihana said: “It will be a process, but the starting point will be those that are regulars at that particular time.”
The minister also said the Flames K30 000 (about $120) game bonus each for a win is much on the lower side; hence, needs to be reviewed.
“These players have responsibilities and much as it is national duty, they need to be committed and the K30 000 (about $120) which they each get for a win and half the amount for a draw, is on the lower side and they only play for the love of their country.
“Even if you brought world-class coaches such as Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, you cannot get the best out of the players if you do not motivate them,” he said.
The ministerâ€™s pledge comes in the wake of FAM president Walter Nyamilanduâ€™s concern that the players are getting a raw deal.
He also confirmed that the Flames recently raised their concerns over allowances through their captain and team manager.
“The issue of playersâ€™ incentives is paramount if we want to get the best from these players. We have written and spoken to the Sports Council on a number of occasions on the need to review their allowances.
“Our players get K2 000 ($8) each as daily training allowance and I do not know on what scale they are with civil servants. We even had problems recently when we had to supplement from gate takings,” said Nyamilandu.
Responding to a question on the progress the association has made in searching for the teamâ€™s corporate partner, the FAM president admitted that getting a sponsor for the Flames has proved difficult because the team is deemed a national asset.
“The feedback we have received from sponsors is that they do not see how they [companies] would be in full control of the national team,” he said.
Asked why it is possible in other countries for companies to sponsor the national team, Nyamilandu said: ” [In other countries], it is a risk and companies in Malawi are not prepared to take such a risk. They would rather sponsor clubs.
“Apart from the sponsorship amount being too high, companies donâ€™t want to be associated with the Flames whose programmes are either cancelled or done at the very last minute and this kind of uncertainty is not good for the sponsorâ€™s brand and they feel they have very little influence over such matters because their sponsorship is only meant to complement government funding,” he said.
However, the FAM president and Flames stand-in captain Moses â€˜Lubaâ€™ Chavula hailed the minister for the move to offer houses to the Flames and review Flames allowances.
“We commend the minister for taking it upon himself to improve the welfare of the players. It is a commendable move,” Nyamilandu said.
On his part, Chavula said: “On behalf of my fellow players, I would like to commend the minister for his pledge because the issue of our welfare has been an outstanding concern. Players can only give out their best if they are properly looked after.”