Despite Foo tball Association of Malawi’s (FAM) assurances that it has development programmes for Under-17 and Under-20 national teams, the Junior teams dumped after Cosafa tourneys association has been dumping the teams once they are back from Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournaments.
The participation at such tournaments has become a mere routine and without a clear purpose since the junior teams disband soon after returning from the competition.
This has resulted in the Under-17 and Under-20 teams being dormant for a year until the regional tourney returns and FAM starts the process of forming a team all over thereby affecting the transition process since they are ultimately supposed to feed the senior team..
A case in point is the Under-17 team which is expected to take part in the junior tournament to be held in Mauritius from July 21-30 after being inactive since last year’s tournament.
Despite registering for the competition several months ago , coach DeKlerk Msakakuona has just started players selection exercise.
Yet last year, when the Under-17 team brought bronze from the 2016 tournament also hosted by Mauritius, FAM promised to keep the team intact to ensure continuity.
FAM, through the then general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda, among several promises, said they would send the team for overseas camp where they would also participate in a mini tournament.
But a year later, the team has not played even a training match and the players, most of whom are still in school, have been idle. It is also the same story for the Under-20 who participated in the Cosafa Cup in South Africa in 2016.
Asked what is the purpose for the team’s participation at this year’s Cosafa Cup, Msakakuona said he is only assigned the matches by the FA.
On assembling a team within two weeks, the coach said: “It is tough.
But as a coach you just have to be prepared for such challenges.” Analyst Charles Nyirenda noted that the association has put too much emphasis on elite football, forgetting the grass roots.
He said: “We give so much attention on getting it right at the senior national team level, forgetting that the grass roots matters most. Has anyone been monitoring these lads from last year Cosafa Cup? Have they been active in any way? The answers to all the questions is no. So what it means is that every year, we spend money to start the same process and dump it midway and restart again the next year.”
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said the challenge the association faces is identifying financially sustainable programmes for the junior national teams.
He said: “Right now, the problem is that we only have the Cosafa Cup as the main annual competition for the junior teams.
“We used to rely on Dana Cup which is held in Denmark. But that is an invitational tournament and you can’t just wake up and participate.
“We have realised that the ideal situation is to keep the junior teams busy by organising friendly matches with neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.