The message from President Lazarus Chakwera as he wound up his speech during the Kuipatsa Moto Flames VVIP Fundraising Dinner at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Saturday night was loud and clear: “To the Flames, let’s go, win!”
Monitored on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Television, the event, which was organised by the Flames Resource Mobilisation Task Force, was aimed at raising funds for the Malawi National Football Team’s preparations and participation at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon next January.
Appearing relaxed and easy, the President challenged the Flames not just to participate, but compete.
He said: “There was once a time when the Malawi National Football Team was known for its winning habit. In those days, even when we did not win trophies, we would still win medals.
“Winning is not just an achievement, it is a state of mind and when a whole nation has that winning mindset, that national mindset becomes more empowering than politics, more enriching than banking and more intimidating than thunder.
“Time has come to reclaim that winning mindset, but make no mistake that reclaiming that mindset will not just come by wishful thinking.”
Chakwera, a former Malawi National Council of Sports board chairperson, said the forces that are blocking the country’s progress are many.
“But the greatest of these forces is what I call Malawi phobia, a form of self loathing we have suffered from for a long time,” he said.
The President also unveiled the new Flames jersey to be worn at the Afcon tournament.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) marketing and commercial director LimbaniMatola said in an interview yesterday that K54 million was raised from the event through auctioning of high table seats and sponsorship categories.
The auction, presided over by Vice-President Saulos Chilima, raised K21 million while K33 million was raised through sponsorship categories that were classified as platinum, gold and silver.
Airtel Malawi plc managing director Charles Kamoto and businesspersons Rafiq Gaffar and Jones Chadza bought the seats.
Said Matola: “Actually, State House offered to meet all the costs and we are grateful to the First Citizen as we could have spent in the excess of K15 million.
“We are still doing the reconciliations and the figure could rise. Otherwise, the event was ahuge success.”
He also said the decorating firm Jay Deco as well as artists Lawi, Lulu and Matumela Band contributed 50 percent of their performance fees towards the cause.
“We are also very thankful to the artists and, of course, all those who contributed to the success of the event,” said Matola.
Flames Resource Mobilisation Task Force chairperson Jabbar Alide, who is also FAM vice-president and a High Court judge, thanked Chakwera, Chilima and government for supporting the cause.
He said: “Let me appreciate the support that government gives the national team. We always appreciate because we know government has many commitments and responsibilities.
“You are a typical father . We pledge to account for every penny. To all of you, we will not disappoint you.”
Flames vice-captain John ‘CJ’ Banda apologised to the President and the nation for the team’s poor showing during the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualification campaign.
“We did not do well, but that doesn’t mean we are a bad team. We are going to the Africa Cup of Nations to compete and we will make the nation proud,” he said.
Banda also called on the FAM to be accountable for the funds that have been pumped towards the initiative.
Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama said the ultimate goal is to win the cup.
He also thanked the task force and all those who assisted towards the cause.