Despite the outrage that punctuated the recent death of former Big Bullets’ left-back Douglas Chirambo, no TNM Super League team, save for Silver Strikers, has complied with players’ medical insurance cover.
Before the start of the season, the teams were supposed to have their respective players undergo medical examinations at nearest Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) clinics and submit forms to the company.
However, with the season in the second week, the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda, who is standing in for general secretary Williams Banda, on Monday confirmed that it was only Silver that met the deadline.
Sulom signed an agreement with Masm over the medical scheme.
“We are still engaging them and we have since given them up to the end of the month to submit the forms. Army teams alerted us that they would be unable to meet the initial deadline as their team doctors were away. Being a new thing, we expected that some teams will have challenges. It is the responsibility of the teams and even the players to comply,” Somba-Banda explained.
However, the only setback is that penalties for non-compliance will only be set once the medical cover is incorporated in the Sulom constitution at the annual general meeting this July “for it to become mandatory.”
Sulom had already engaged Masm on the insurance cover, but Chirambo’s death on April 5, due to a brain tumour, fast-tracked the launch of the medical scheme. During Chirambo’s funeral, players threatened to boycott the new season unless there was insurance cover.
Big Bullets defender Sankhani Mkandawire said he was unaware as to when they would undergo the tests, adding that the team’s officials only took details of each player on Sunday “and it seems it is to do with the insurance issue”.
Football Players Association chairperson Ojukwu Malunga has since asked Sulom to deploy an instructor to each team to ensure compliance, adding “we are so concerned. We cannot only react when things have happened. Let the clubs comply.”
Even Azam Tigers, whose chairperson Sydney Chikoti is Masm chief executive officer, has not submitted the forms to Sulom. However, Chikoti yesterday insisted that the forms are ready. Teams are supposed to submit the forms to Masm offices in Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre.
“By May 1 all our players will be on Masm cover. Even if we had submitted the forms earlier, the effectiveness would have still started from the 1st of May. The league started mid-April and the insurance cover can only start from the start of a month. Sulom distributed the forms in good time and speaking from Masm perspective, it is the responsibility of the clubs to comply,” Chikoti said.
Malawi Defence Force were not ready for a comment as we went to press, but one of their teams, Airborne Rangers’ acting chairperson Chancy Chembezi, yesterday said they had referred Sulom’s call for insurance cover to the Army headquarters for direction.
Sulom signed an agreement with Masm that covers “a maximum of 30 individuals per team. This entails that a club can choose to cover players or the technical personnel as long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum number of 30. The cover includes football-related injuries sustained on the pitch among other ailments.”
“The cover will be per year/season and the premiums will be paid as such. Each team will be required to pay K54 000 per month through Sulom. All your registered players will be required to undergo a medical test at any nearest Masm clinic whereby the Masm clinician will certify and sign on the medical form,” Somba-Banda wrote in an earlier statement.