Thirty-two secondary school students from across the country are being taught subtle soccer skills in Lilongwe as the Malawi Schools Sports Association (Massa) takes on its new responsibility of selecting the Under-17 team.
Massa, taking advantage of the Easter school holidays, are honing the skills of the youngsters during a 10-day training session at Lilongwe Girls’ Secondary School.
Massa is also taking advantage of the on-going Presidential Initiative for Sports’ Talent Identification Exercise, which has been sponsored by the Malawi National Sports Council (MNSC).
“We have in camp 32 students with an average age of 14. We are forming a national team which will represent Massa in international games. The same team will also be up for use for the Football Association of Malawi (FAM),” Massa general secretary Blackson Malamula said.
“The reason we have concentrated on ages from 14 to 15 is because we want to have an Under-17 team that can work together for up to three years, to build rapport. We are very strict on age and we believe FAM can use these players, as they have impeccable birth records,” Malamula explained.
He stated that the first major assignment for the team will be in Gabon, in August, where they will represent Malawi in the Airtel Rising Star tournament.
FAM technical director Captain John Kaputa, who has been monitoring the kids on the sidelines of a C-License coaching course he is facilitating, thanked Massa for taking the initiative to form the national Under-17 team.
“Currently, my responsibility is on these teachers but I am keeping an eye on the youngsters and monitoring their training. This is good exposure for the children and Massa are creating a good foundation for the Under-17 national team,” Kaputa enthused.
Apart from being drilled on the football skills, the youngsters have also been introduced to the larger picture concerning local and international football. Lectures and practical sessions by reputed officials, including well-known Super League referee Innocent Kaundula, are adding value to the training session.