On Thursday, Malawi Under-17 national team camp in the commercial city, Blantyre, celebrated six playersâ€™ success in the 2012 Junior Certificate of Education examinations. But coach John Kaputa is in a dilemma.
Coming from a teaching background, Kaputa is uncomfortable that his charges, drawn from secondary schools, are missing classes which have clashed with preparations for next weekâ€™s trip to Botswana.
They will face the young Zebras in the second leg of Africa Youth Championship preliminary round. Malawi won 2-1 in the first leg last week.
â€œWith JCE results out, my concern is that they are missing classes and their parents must be wondering as to what will become of their studies,â€ Kaputa explained during Friday morning training session at Kamuzu Stadium.
Kaputa has since taken the matter to FAM for them to explore the possibility of earning the players temporary places at a Blantyre secondary school so that they can study up to noon and switch to training afternoon.
â€œI am here because I was at Dedza Secondary School. I do not want the players to accuse me of failing them in their academic pursuits. I am in dilemma. School and football must go together. If we get past Botswana, there are games every month up to November,â€ said Kaputa.
On Friday, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu confirmed that Kaputa raised the issue and the association has sought the Ministry of Youth and Sportsâ€™ help in negotiating with the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education publicist Lindiwe Chide said she needed to find out whether the ministry has exemptions on student footballers as was the case in the glory years of Malawi football.
While referring further questions to PS 2 Justin Saidi on Friday, Principal Secretary in Ministry of Sports, Alex Mseka, hinted that there could be a possibility of a special arrangement of getting the players in school while in camp.
Victor Lungu combined education with playing football from primary school up Chancellor College. Now a senior civil servant, Lungu captained Chanco FC and Civo United eventually evolving into the Lilongwe teamâ€™s administrator.
â€œIn our time, there was always a way of balancing the academic side with football. Sometimes, when about to sit for examinations, we could ask for exemptions. With the current situation, I believe there could also be a compromise,â€ Lungu said on Saturday.
Apart from making it big in football, the Under-17 captain Lovemore Jereâ€™s ambition is to attain university college education and become a lawyer.