Malawi President Joyce Banda has said her foundation has introduced the K100 million (about $294 117) inter-constituency football and netball tournaments to complement other initiatives in developing sports from the grass roots.
The President said this on Sunday when she launched the initiative at Sanjika Palace in the commercial city of Blantyre where she also announced that the Joyce Banda Foundation (JBF) would, in partnership with the Jack Brewer Foundation and the One World Futbol Project, distribute 11 000 balls in all the country’s constituencies.
“I want to make it clear that this is a Joyce Banda Foundation initiative, it, therefore, does not make sense that football should cause any debate,” said Banda amid applause from the turnout that included sports officials, chiefs and politicians.
The President also said apart from football and netball, under the initiative, JBF will also promote basketball and American football.
She said the initiative will complement other projects such as the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS), Fifa Grass roots Development Programme, All For Health Football, Airtel Rising Star and the Coca-Cola Schools Football Tournament.
“Sports helps to keep our youth away from engaging in conducts and behaviours that can negatively affect their life and future such as sexual immorality, drug abuse just to mention some,” said Banda.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana has dismissed suggestions that the initiative could be a campaign gimmick for next year’s Presidential and Parliamentary General Elections.
“H.E [Her Excellency] hatched this idea sometime back and why should she, therefore, wait until 2015 to launch this noble cause?
“It has nothing to do with next year’s general elections. She is purely playing her part in the quest to develop sports and the entire country needs to appreciate and embrace this programme,” said Chihana.
He also said the initiative will not be a duplication of the PIS because it is sponsored by government while the other programme will be initiated by the JBF.
He said logistics surrounding the JBF initiative will be announced during the launch in due course.
“But the tournaments will be played at constituency, district, regional, then national level,” he said.
JBF managing director Edith Akridge said the aim of the initiative is to develop sports through constituencies.
She said JBF will work hand in hand with all stakeholders, including Sports Council, FAM and NAM to ensure smooth running of the tournaments.
In his brief remarks, Jack Brewer Foundation founder and executive director Jack Brewer appealed to authorities to ensure that the balls reach the intended beneficiaries.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and his NAM counterpart Rosy Chinunda said the initiatives will help develop football and netball respectively from the grass roots.