The sports fraternity has high expectations from the newly appointed Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama to push for policy change to help in the development of sports.
The Lilongwe City South parliamentarian was named in President Lazarus Chakwera’s 31-member Cabinet on Wednesday.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said there is need for the minister to champion the policy change.
He said: “We definitely need an enabling environment for sports to thrive. We made a series of proposals to Parliament when we met them in 2019 which are yet to be acted upon.
“Some of the policy changes the association proposed were direct funding of its national team programmes and government support of sports development programmes.”
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu also said they are hopeful that Msungama will help the association.
“We are happy to have a person of his calibre because he is young and conversant with sports issues. We are hoping that he will help us to have more friendly games and see to it that the indoor netball court project is constructed,” she said.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said he expects government to complete the Nyasa Big Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers stadium and indoor netball projects since they were already approved by Parliament.
“The House already agreed to fund the stadium projects under the condition that they remain government properties, but lent to the two teams.
“That is why the land leases remain with government. Moreover, last year while in opposition, MCP did not object an allocation of K750 million to each of the two projects,” he said.
Another analyst Kelvin Moyo tipped Msungama to concentrate on reviving sports from grassroots.
“In the past under MCP rule, primary and secondary schools were the principle catchment areas for talent identification. It was a mode of sports academy with sports masters as drivers of talent identification and nurturing,” he said.
Former sports journalist Mike Bango, who is now MCP’s Kasungu North parliamentarian, said he was confident that Msungama can deliver.
“Firstly, congratulations. Malawians have high expectations from him since sports is something that they love. It is my sincere hope that he will be the one to at least change the way things have been happening, for the better,” he said.
In an interview yesterday, the minister said as an avid sports fan, his observation is that Malawi has the potential to thrive in sports, but bad policies are a stumbling block.
He said: “Most of the challenges that sports has been experiencing are due to bad policies. We need to have a national sports policy conference where all stakeholders should be able to make an input. That will be my priority.
“As someone, who has been following sports, including football, I know the challenges that are there. I could be wrong, but I strongly feel the policies need to be looked into. I cannot say much because we haven’t been sworn in, but immediately after that I will start from that.”
Msungama, who supports Silver Strikers on the local scene and Premier League outfit Arsenal, said once government has put in place good policies, other challenges such as poor funding would be a thing of the past.
“You know, when you have good policies funding may not be a big a challenge. So, if we have good policies I believe stakeholders such as sponsors should be able to come in and support sports,” he said.
Msungama confessed that he has a mammoth task to bring change that stakeholders are expecting.
“I may not know everything, but I believe in opening up to people.