The under 17Under-17 national football team flew to Cosafa Youth Championship in Mauritius with no Super League player as was previously the case.
In the past, Malawi Under-17 squads were laden with top-flight league players who seemed to stifle efforts of youth development as newly identified talents were not given chance to gain exposure and experience.
National Youth Football Association (NYFA) chairperson Mike Mabvuto Missi said he was happy that finally a team that gives a true reflection of what a development squad should look like has been given a chance to participate in the international event.
“This is what we have been fighting for all along. We are proud to have been given powers to assemble a true Under-17 squad with the help of Malawi Schools Sports Association [Massa] and FMB,” he said.
“We will create a database so as to follow and monitor the players and we will make sure they are not rushed into the Super League, where young talent is wasted through prolonged spells on the sidelines,” he said.
Before the squad’s departure, coach Deklerk Msakakuona expressed confidence that his charges will do well although the main aim of participation is to develop the players by giving them international exposure.
“Much as we want to win the trophy, our focus is on giving the young players a chance to learn and earn international exposure. They should start getting such exposure at a tender age as they develop together to form a strong Flames squad in the near future,” said Msakakuona.
The 18-player Malawi team, which includes 14-year-old defenders Hadji Juwali and Innocent Nhlema, will start their campaign against Madagascar this Friday before facing Zambia on Sunday and guests Kenya on Tuesday. n