Staging of the discarded Malawi Under-18 Games could be the only solution to improve Malawi performance at the Supreme Council of Sports Africa Zone VI Under 20 games.
Despite winning 10 medals more than in 2010, team Malawi still finished 10th at this year’s Zone VI Games just like in the previous games which shows the country still has a lot to do in order to improve.
The Malawi Games, which were supposed to start in 2011 and to be held after every two years, were aimed at creating a platform to select athletes from all corners of the country for the Zone VI games.
Each district was supposed to have a team competing in the nine Zone VI sporting codes. But the games were cancelled at the 11th hour after the Ministry of Youth and Sports claimed that they were a duplication of the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS).
Malawi National Council of Sports official Ruth Mzengo, who was the team manager in Lusaka, said the Malawi Games idea should be pursued.
“The Malawi Games are different from the Presidential Initiative on Sports. These games are purely for under-18s and involve district teams and not just individual teams as the other programme.
“The Malawi Games are a mini-Olympic event and would give the athletes a feel of what to expect at international games.
“More importantly, they would give us a chance to scout from every part of the country and get the best athletes unlike now as our mechanism only allows us to scout from urban areas; hence, we are not able to cast our net wider,” said Mzengo.
Sports Council is, nonetheless, impressed with performance of the team this year.
Having managed two medals at the 2008 and 2010 games, Team Malawi managed 12 medals in Lusaka last week, but could still not improve its position on the overall medal count tally.
The medals include one gold in athletics, six silver—two each in athletics and lawn tennis and, one each in boxing and netball—and five bronze, two each in athletics and judo and one in boxing.
Just like the past games, South Africa won with 132 medals followed by Namibia ( 65), Zambia (39), Mozambique (26), Botswana (32), Angola (12) Lesotho (eight with four gold), Zimbabwe (15), Swaziland (five with two gold) and Malawi.
Mauritius and Seychelles finished behind Malawi without a medal each, but they only fielded a football team.
“From two medals to 12, it is a huge improvement. We may not have managed to push into the top eight as we aimed, but we still have something to look at with pride.
“It is encouraging to see sporting disciplines like boxing and Judo which were making their debut at the games getting medals. It shows we have potential and we just have to strategise properly in terms of preparations,” said the council’s administration manager Henry Mereka, who was the leader of delegation.
Veteran sports administrator Dean Pinto said individual sports have proved that they have the capacity to win more medals at such games if given adequate support.