By definition, athletics is an exclusive sport that includes numerous events that involve running, jumping, throwing and walking.
And according to the newly elected president of Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM), Godfrey Phiri, if the definition is anything to go by, then the countryâ€™s athletics is dead.
For more than a decade, the country has only concentrated on running, which has yielded no success internationally, at the expense of other events.
Phiri says his main mission will be to diversify the sport so that all events are incorporated if Malawi is to become a force on the international scene.
â€œWhen the Malawi Young Pioneers were around, we had long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, hammer throw, javelin throw and walking, all Olympic events. But they all disappeared.
â€œWe have potential to win medals with these events and we need to bring them back,â€ said Phiri in an exclusive interview when asked on his plans for the next four-year term following his election last Saturday.
But aside from diversifying the game, Phiri has other challenges to deal withâ€”lack of sponsorship and competitions, grass-roots developmental structures, controversy in the selection of athletes for international tournaments and abuse of resources.
The new team has a lot of work to do, but Phiri banks on his experience to succeed.
He is making a comeback to the association he served as vice-president between 2004 and 2007, before rising to acting president for a year following Justice Dunstain Mwanguluâ€™s resignation.
Phiri lost the presidential race in 2008 to his secondary school teacher Dr. Richard Nyirongo, who he defeated last Saturday with a margin of seven votes.
â€œI made a plan of action when I was acting president but left three months later. The committee that came in did not continue with the programme we put in place and that is why there are problems now,â€ he said.
Phiri said there is need to revamp the sport in schools in order to produce world-class athletes.
â€œWe had schools athletics competitions where talent was identified at young age and properly developed. We now identify athletes when they are more than 25-years old, which is way above developmental age.
â€œWe must incorporate Massa [Malawi Schools Sports Association] so that they help us lay structures in schools as they have successfully done with netball and football,â€ he said.
Athletics only has one sponsored tournament, the K2.5 million (about $8333) Chingâ€™ombe Marathon and has lost five sponsorships in the past four years. Phiri believes planning will be key to convince sponsors to come on board.
â€œWe donâ€™t have a strategic plan and vision so how can we convince stakeholders to partner us? We also donâ€™t have quality athletes worth selling as brands and we need to develop some,â€ he said
The former general secretary of the Africa Zone Athletics chapter also regretted AAMâ€™s ignoring of the armed forces in the associationâ€™s programmes.
â€œArmy and police have good athletics structures and produce top athletes, but there is no proper coordination. They do hold annual games, but we are never there to spot talent or provide technical support. It is good in my committee we have a top army and police official who will facilitate the relationship,â€ he said.
But while Phiri and his five-member committee might be dreaming in colour, analysts believe they have a big challenge to clear the mess in the association.
Sports Council executive director George Jana says the main problem in AAM has been the use of an outdated constitution and failure to abide by it.
Jana has since given the committee 90 days to amend its constitution.
â€œThere are many flaws in the AAM constitution which need to be rectified. The outgoing committee was told to change but did not. We now challenge the new committee to come up with one legitimate constitution, failure of which the executive will be moved out using powers conferred upon the council,â€ said Jana.