Malawi government is setting up a joint committee of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Malawi Secondary Schools Association (Massa) to plan to win medals at Brazil 2016 Olympics, Weekend Nation has learnt.
The brains behind the initiative is Minister of Youth and Sports, Enoch Chihana.
The committee which, according to Chihana will start working in the first week of September will be responsible for preparations for the 2013 Zone VI Games, 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
â€œIn the past, the approach has been laxed when it came to Olympic or Commonwealth Games. While other African countries have always won medals, we have always failed. This committee will be responsible for coming up with strategies and programmes to identify and support potential talent,â€ said Chihana in an exclusive interview this week.
He said the focus of the committee, which government is ready to fund, will be on individual sports such as field and track, the javelin, the discus, canoeing and swimming.
â€œWe have to concentrate on sports disciplines which are less costly in terms of investment and give the athletes as much support as possible. It has been a shame failing to reach standard Olympic time in the past,â€ he said.
MDF director of training Brigadier General Macbeth Mkandawire, welcomed the initiative but said MDF is yet to be communicated to on the new development.
â€œThe joint approach shows seriousness on the part of government. It is a great concept that can transform sports in terms of Olympic and Commonwealth Games success. Once MDF is approached, we will get direction from General [Henry[ Odillo on the way forward. In MDF, we already have such annual programmes,â€ said Mkandawire.
He said because of lack of seriousness by associations and individual athletes, the country has been losing out on medals, failing even to qualify for international standard time.
â€œFor athletes to excel, they need encouragement and support. They need motivation, knowing that there is a reward after all is done. In MDF, we encourage a spirit of competitiveness that is why we have produced distance runners such as Mike Tebulo and John Kayange. Long-term planning produces results,â€ said Mkandawire.
He cited countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Botswana which, he said have excelled because of proper planning by respective associations and support from government.
MPS has also built a star of international repute in marathon runner Henry Moyo.
Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya welcomed governmentâ€™s political will and commitment.
â€œThis is good direction. In the past, there was lack of commitment from government and that is the main reason the country has not done well in field and track. It was only the Malawi Olympic Committee which was active in promoting Olympic sports,â€ said Chitembeya.
He alleged that because of lack of commitment from government, the country failed to benefit from the International Associations for Athletes Federation (IAAF) projects such as the construction of a stadium complete with modern facilities for running track and technology such as photo finisher to record individual time records.
â€œIn 2010, IAAF planned to give Malawi $120 000 (about K30 million) for the project and we wrote government to fill in the shortfall, which was about $20 000 then, and also to provide land for the project, but government failed to do so. It was a setback. We have the talent to make it big out there, but without support we can do nothing,â€ said Chitembeya.
Chihana said he is not aware of the issue, but assured AAM that the modern stadium to be constructed in Lilongwe will have everything for athletes to train on.
â€œI am yet to check my records on the failed stadium, but the new stadium in Lilongwe will provide an answer to the problems our athletes have been facing. This government is committed to seeing athletes bring medals home,â€ said Chihana.