The Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) has announced that the annual Cosafa Under-20 Challenge tournament will not be held this year.
This will be the first time that the championship will not be staged since the inaugural one in 1997 in Botswana.
This is due to lack of funding following the withdrawal of sponsorship by Metropolitan, who have been bankrolling the developmental competition since 2006.
But Cosafa says it is still committed to the development of football in the region, despite the fact that the Cosafa Under-20 Championship will not be staged this year.
“The Cosafa Under-20 Championship has grown enormously in stature over the last few years and we look forward to bringing the tournament back into our calendar shortly.
“In the meantime, we are looking forward to an excellent Zone VI Under-17 Games and trust that the football competitions in Zambia will be of the usual high standard and of great enjoyment for those who will participate,” said Cosafa president Suketu Patel.
Cosafa will instead be organising the menâ€™s Under-17 football tournament at the 2012 Zone VI Under-20 Games to be staged in Lusaka, Zambia from December 7-16 2012.
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said the development is a setback to the development of football in the region and Malawi in particular.
“This is where most of our senior national team players first taste international football and it has been the breeding ground for the Flames players. We hope next year it will bounce back,” said Nyirenda.
The Cosafa Under-20 tournament has helped nurture top Flames players such as Peter Mponda, Esau Kanyenda, Robert Ngâ€™ambi, Moses Chavula, Jimmy Zakazaka, James Sangala, Harry Nyirenda, Atusaye Nyondo, Swadick Sanudi, Fischer Kondowe, Peter Wadabwa and Simplex Nthala, just to mention a few.
Meanwhile, Fifa together with Cosafa, will conduct a youth coaching course for both male and female coaches in Lusaka, Zambia during the Zone VI Under-17 Games.
The aim is to improve the quality of coaches in the region, who then pass their new-found skills on to the youngsters under their guidance. Courses will be run by Fifa instructors Ulrich Mathiot from Seychelles and Fran Hilton-Smith from South Africa.