Minority sports bodies in the country have expressed concern on the continued exclusion in their Mayor’s Trophy initiative.
The contest, which targets Under-14 children in cities’ primary schools, has all along benefited football and netball.
FDH Bank pumped in K30.8 million towards the initiative with Lilongwe and Zomba Mayor’s trophies taking K10 million each; Mzuzu taking K6 million and Blantyre taking K4.8 million.
However, minority sports including Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM), Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal), Volleyball Association of Malawi (VAM), Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) and Lawn Tennis Association of Malawi (Ltam) have described the Mayor’s sports initiative as discriminatory as it only caters for football and netball.
AAM general secretary Frank Chitembeya observed that the current FDH Bank’s funding for each city is enough to cater for other sports disciplines because youth competitions do not need big prizes.
“The K10 million that have been injected, for example in Zomba City is enough to spread to other sports disciplines such as athletics. Focusing on football and netball will not help the country nurture talent from other sports disciplines,” he said.
Basmal president Hamlet Kamtengeni said it is surprising to see that other sports disciplines are sidelined in the Mayor’s sports initiative.
Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) president Susan Namangale said K500 000 is enough to conduct inter-primary school individual tournament.
“Chess is the most active minority sport in the country. Apart from the sport being enjoyed by Under-14 children, it promotes creative thinking, analytical thinking and problem solving. The Mayor’s Trophy would be a good platform for young talents,” she explained.
Ltam national technical director Owen Mfune said they have good players in most primary schools in all the cities in the country and it is sad that Mayor’s trophy is biased towards football and netball.
However, FDH Bank public relations officer Lorraine Lusinje said the mandate to determine the beneficiaries of their sports funding remains in the hands of the councils.
“Our involvement stops at providing the funds. It is the council’s responsibility to determine which sports disciplines benefit from what we have funded,” she said.
Mzuzu City Council mayor William Mkandawire confessed that the Mayor’s Trophy sports initiative is not inclusive, hence a need to consider a number of sports disciplines that should benefit from it.
“We looked at that, however, we decided that we should consider other sports disciplines in future. Looking at the time frame, we feel it would be difficult to manage the tournament if we incorporated many sports disciplines,” he said.
But Lilongwe City Council mayor Desmond Bikoko said football and netball remain popular sports activities in the country.
Blantyre City Council (BCC) PRO Anthony Kasunda said the tradition has been football and netball participating in the Mayor’s Trophy, but admitted that there is a need to change that set up.
“All along, it has been football and netball, but with other sports disciplines becoming popular, it is my hope
that it will change,” he said.
Zomba City Council spokesperson Mercy Chaluma said they are aware of the need for the initiative to benefit more sports disciplines. However, the sponsorship is not enough to accommodate many sports codes.
Commenting on the matter, Malawi National Council of Sports executive secretary George Jana advised the minority sports associations to market themselves to attract sponsors.
“Every sport association should stop complaining, but rather start selling themselves. They must look to themselves why they are not favourites,” he said. n