Business mogul and philanthropist Thom Mpinganjira has accepted a call from the blue side of town to become Mighty Wanderers FC president, heralding a new dawn for the oldest football team in the land.
Sporting a three-piece lounge suit of sober grey and a Nomads scarf around his neck, the FDH Group founder was unveiled by the club’s commercialisation task force, executive and supporters’ committees during a press briefing at his Nyambadwe residence in Blantyre on Thursday.
It marked the first step in turning the club from a community team—that it has been since its formation 59 years ago—into a limited liability company run by a board of directors.
However, Mpinganjira did not promise the moon and sent out a word of caution that turning the Lali Lubani Road outfit into a full-fledged commercial entity and football powerhouse, won’t be a stroll in the park.
Appearing relaxed and cheery, he said: “It is true that I have accepted to be president of Mighty Wanderers  Private Company. I am very excited, but at the same time apprehensive because running a football club is not easy.
“Thank you Wanderers family for embracing me, but we have work to do. Times are hard due to Covid-19 and the process will be slow and we’ll struggle for sometime. We will be having our first meeting [as a board] this Friday [yesterday]. So, I cannot say much because this will be team work and we will see where we go from here.”
The business tycoon said he decided to accept the call to lead the club because he feared for its future after reading in newspapers about internal wrangles and financial constraints.
“The fear that Wanderers was going to fold and my passion for the team is what made me to come in and help. I felt that without Wanderers, football will not be the same.
“I have heard that others are saying I want to be like [South African business magnate] Patrice Motsepe to make my way to FAM [Football Association of Malawi], then CAF [Confederation of African Football] and probably Fifa, but it’s not like that, ” he said.
Mpinganjira said when he was approached by the club’s task force on commercialisation, executive and supporters committees, he gave them some conditions.
“I told them that if you want me to get involved, then stop quarrelling and that supporters should be disciplined because sponsors don’t like to be associated with violence.”
The new Nomads president further said he would like Wanderers to be like their rivals—Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers—who have turned into commercial entities.
Task force chairperson Humphrey Mvula, who is also the club’s former chairperson, said the decision to have Mpinganjira as president was a collective one.
He said: “At first, he was reluctant, but we persuaded him to. We selected Dr. Mpinganjira because of his business acumen to help us commercialise the club and we believe Wanderers will benefit greatly from his rare skills.
“He will be supported by diverse cohort of directors from different backgrounds, among whom are women of considerable knowledge and understanding of issues. “
Mvula also applauded the club’s supporters for their commitment to the cause, saying: “Despite the challenges the process may have encountered along the way, they agreed on this commercialisation route.
“The club will be failing in its appreciation if it does also not take great recognition of the Gaffar brothers—Aslam and Rashid—for being there for the club during most difficult times and we trust that they will continue to support the new board and continue to put resources at the disposal of the club that you love most.”
He also thanked members of the past and present executive committees, task force and other stakeholders for the role they played towards the cause.
Mvula said the rest of the board will be unveiled in due course.
Club chairperson Chancy Gondwe and his supporters committee counterpart Melvin Nkunika said they were excited that what they had been looking forward to, has been achieved and they thanked Mpinganjira for accepting their request..
Said Gondwe: “It was like a dream when we embarked on this process. The initiative has just began because we want to venture into serious commercialisation and together we will achieve our goal.”