The local football fraternity is divided on whether the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) should streamline its calendar with that of the major leagues to ensure that player movement is not affected in any way.
While FAM argues that the initiative would not be favourable to Malawi soccer due to weather and infrastructure challenges, proponents of the move believe that is the best way to go to normalise player transfers and stabilise the domestic league.
In lucrative leagues such as English Premiership, Spanish La Liga and the South Africa Premier Soccer League, their season run from August to June and they almost have uniform transfer windows.
However, in Malawi the calendar starts from April to December and this results in a different transfer windows altogether.
With the current set-up, some local players fail to strike professional deals with foreign clubs while local clubs miss the services of some key players during league matches as they are called for trials when domestic season is still in progress.
For instance, Nyasa Big Bullets saw four of their key players Muhammad Sulumba, Sankhani Mkandawire, John Lanjesi and Owen Chaima sneaking out of the country for trials in South Africa and Tanzania mid-through the 2016 TNM Super League when the side was already depleted due to a list of injuries.
Recently, Kamwendo alleged that their botched trials in Japan alongside Peter Wadabwa were supposed to be done in December when the 2016 season was still on but Be Forward Wanderers deliberately delayed their trip so that they could feature in the Fisd, Cup Challenge and Luso TV Bus Ipite Bonanza.
According to Fifa/transfer matching systems’ (TMS) worldwide transfer windows calendar, which was last updated on January 31, 2017 on www.fifatms.com, Malawi transfer window opened on Tuesday and would close on May 9 while that of major international leagues opened in July 2016 and closed in August 2016.
But FAM competitions manager Gomezgani Zakazaka said it would be difficult to abandon the current Malawi football calendar and adopt the other widely accepted calendar due to weather and infrastructure challenges.
“With the August-to-June calendar, we would be forced to have matches between the months of December and February, when we have frequent rains that make our pitches unplayable,” Zakazaka said.
But some local fooball clubs and players insist that FAM should adjust the calendar to ensure that player movements are not affected during transfer windows.
Silver Strikers general secretary Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda and Be Forward Wanderers midfielder Joseph Kamwendo believe that the development would stabilise the domestic league because when the calendar is harmonized, player transfer windows would as well be uniform.
“We live in a global village to which Malawi is part but we are alienating ourselves from it when we do not align ourselves with what is happening in other leagues in the world, and the international transfer system at large,” said Chakaka-Nyirenda.
“If we do that, we would help to prevent player transfer deals from getting frustrated and we would have stability in our league.”
In spite of that, player transfer expert Felix Ngamanya-Sapao said with the African climate, the current Malawi calendar is a little bit better.
“Apart from that, most African competitions such as African Cup of Nations [Afcon] are conducted between January and February and it is better to have domestic leagues resting during that period. Despite that, I would prefer the season to end in November not December,” he said.