If football and netball were a city, Walter Nyamilandu and Rosy Chinunda could have been the oldest and tallest twin towers; the kind of towers which even the faintest eyes cannot miss.
The two have been the force at the helm of the most powerful sports codes in the country. For years, amid hatred and love, they have always soldiered on.
Ironically, both have recently announced that they will not seek re-election when Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) go to the polls next year and in 2018 respectively.
Nyamilandu, currently in his fourth elective term, said his decision is in response to new rules approved by Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) which limit leaders to three terms only.
Though he is still eligible to run as the new rules do not take into account his previous terms, the FAM leader declared he will quit.
Chinunda, on her part, said she will leave office to pave the way for someone with fresh ideas to revamp the sport.
So who is next?
Northern Region Football Association chairperson Lameck Zetu Khonje says there is need to replace Nyamilandu with someone who can woo the corporate world to embrace football.
“The best candidate to fit in Walter’s shoes must be a people’s person since football is a people’s game, someone who understands the game technically and can convincingly talk to the corporate world,” he dissects his idea.
Seasoned netball coach and administrator Sam Kanyenda says he wants the new NAM leader to have passion for the development of grassroots netball.
“We need someone who will know that grassroots netball is the future of the sport. Again, that person should connect netball with education. Our players should play netball, but they should also know the importance of school,” he states.
Nyamilandu and Chinunda have—over the years—been rescuers. When the national teams run out of funds they have been intensively lobbying for corporate support.
The FAM leader has also presided over the successful implementation of the Fifa Goal Projects that have resulted in the construction of magnificent Chiwembe Technical Centre and other infrastructure in Central and Northern regions.
Nyamilandu and Chinunda have been key to securing sponsorships the two sports disciplines have enjoyed.
For the first time, the netball national team had a long-term sponsor after Airtel Money committed K360 million to netball in 2013.
FAM also agreed a K250 million Flames sponsorship package with Carlsberg Malawi and recently secured another sponsor, FDH Bank.
Despite their successes, the two have been an annoyance to their critics. This has largely been as a result of national teams’ poor performance.
Since qualifying for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Malawi has not achieved anything significant. Recently, it was eliminated from the 2017 Afcon qualification campaign, kicked out of 2018 World Cup prematurely and faltered during the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup.
“The products of good football administration are good results, which sadly our team has not been achieving. Leadership change, at this point, is paramount,” football analyst and former Flames midfielder Peter Mgangira says.
Netball has been embroiled in its own failures too. The Queens have spent much of the past two years on position six from five on the International Netball Federation (INF) rankings. Recently, the Under-21 failed to qualify for the 2017 World Youth Championships.
These are some of the clear signs that the twin towers—Nyamilandu and Chinunda—are nearing collapse. The pair’s pending exit is, all considered, a necessity.
But one thing is certain though: whether their successors, bring forth the much needed success, when Nyamilandu and Chinunda are gone, the sports sea will be cold, scary and noticeably barren. n