Players Welfare Association (PWA) has finally been registered as an independent body responsible for the welfare of local footballers and will start its operations next month.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) introduced the body eight months ago and observers described PWA’s delay to roll out its activities as a setback to local football development after former Flames and Civo United striker Noel Mkandawire struggled to get treatment before he eventually died a few months ago.
Nevertheless, PWA general secretary Ernest Mangani yesterday said the long wait is almost over as they have now set up the necessary structures for the association to begin its work.
He added that although it was set up by FAM, PWA is independent of the local soccer governing body to ensure the welfare of players is fully protected and it will run as a trade union since the players are employed by their respective clubs.
According to Mangani, they have already signed agreements with Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) for players’ treatment in time of illness; Nico General Insurance to offer insurance cover for injuries; Old Mutual for financial literacy training to teach players how to spend and invest their income and Modern Education and Training Institution, which will provide scholarships in fields such as journalism.
“For instance, players will no longer have to force themselves into playing matches while injured for the sake of earning allowances. This time around, injured players will be getting almost an equivalent of their game bonus from Nico General Insurance when they are nursing injuries. But a medical report will be required in such cases,” he said.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Goodwill Funeral Services in events of players’ death and there is an arrangement to take care of family needs in case the player is hospitalised.
The body will also provide financial and material support to players during their wedding ceremonies. On top of that, there will be some personal coaching sessions for players on how to handle their lifestyles.
PWA will also be using the professional football players’ body FIFPro model that will see them fighting for the footballers’ rights on contractual issues with their respective clubs and challenge FAM’s decisions deemed to infringe on players physical and economic well-being.
Meanwhile, the body has engaged Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS), FAM, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU).
On how PWA will be acquiring its funding for operations, Mangani said it will be done through yet-to-be decided membership fees from active and former players through their respective clubs and a three-percent cut from FAM’s earnings. He said discussions are also underway with prospective corporate partners.
“Once we finalise our consultations, we will launch the association in January 2018. The most important thing that is remaining is to brief clubs on how far we have gone with the setting up of our structures,” he said.
Both players and clubs have welcomed the development, saying it is the best way to go for Malawi football development.
“Life has been hard in the absence of this association. Along the way we have lost our friends, who could have been alive had this entity been operational. We are ready to join this body,” said Nyasa Big Bullets captain John Lanjesi.
PWA has MNCS executive secretary George Jana, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and Sulom president Innocent Bottoman as directors while Alfred Lungu, Mabvuto Missi and Mangani are chairperson, vice-chairperson and general secretary, in that order.
Committee members are Cosmas Luwaniko, Trouble Kalua, Chiku Kanyenda, Russel Mwafulirwa, Hellings Mwakasungula, Titha Mandiza, Sungeni Msiska and Jimmy Zakazaka. n