Flames assistant coach and former captain Peter ‘Mjojo’ Mponda’s decision to join politics next year has taken coach Ronny van Geneugden (RVG) by surprise.
Mponda—considered one of the most promising coaches on the local scene—yesterday told The Nation in an interview that he has decided to contest for a parliamentary seat in his childhood Blantyre City South Constituency during the 2019 Tripartite Elections. He said championing youth empowerment is the reason behind his decision.
“It is not that I have just woken up and decided to go into politics. It is an issue that I gave a huge amount of thought [on] and I have consulted widely.
“We have heard about the youth being future leaders for a long time, but in reality we are supposed to be today’s leaders,” he said.
However, RVG yesterday expressed surprise with Mponda’s move, saying: “He has not told me anything about that. I will have to sit down with him and have a man-to-man discussion.
“To me, I think he has lots of potential as a future coach and it will be a huge setback for Malawi football. But as I said, let me hear him out first.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu also described it as a setback.
“We had high hopes for him. He was identified as a potential coach by the national coach [RVG] and we have been planning to prepare him for the future.
“Peter is a role model to young players and we hope that he will continue to remain with us in whatever way possible. I, personally, will respect his decision, but in the event that he changes his mind, the door shall remain open because he has tremendous potential.
“He also has leadership qualities and that is why he served as Flames captain for over a decade and was identified by Surestream management to lead their [defunct] academy and maybe that is what the constituency has seen in him,” he said.
Mponda’s announcement comes a few days after his team, PremierBet Wizards, was relegated from the TNM Super League, but he insisted that the decision has nothing to do with the relegation.
“I was just waiting for the right time to make an announcement. Otherwise, the team will continue,” he said.
Wizards’ fate was sealed on Sunday following their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu. They wrapped up the season on position 14 with 27 points.
“We are out. No hard feelings. Good luck to all the teams that have done well. However, we will go back to the drawing board and map the forward, what is clear is that we will keep the squad. Hopefully, we will be back soon. Thanks to all good friends and well-wishers for the support,” he said in a post-match interview.
Wizards joined Blantyre United and Chitipa United who have also been relegated.
Mponda was captain when the Flames qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) for the first time in 26 years.