The cookie has finally crumbled. The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) executive committee meeting held last Saturday has approved the phasing out of the Presidential Cup.
The competition was introduced in 2009 under the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) with the objective of identifying talent, but over the years it became just like any other cup hardly serving its intended purpose.
The K60 million funds meant for the initiative will now be used for implementation of youth development strategy which the association has formulated and will target under-17 district competitions, according to FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda.
He said: “FAM has formulated a policy that is emphasising on grass roots football development. The executive has since approved the proposal to phase out the Presidential Cup so that the funds are channelled towards grass roots football. In this way, the K60 million funding will go towards the intended purpose.
“We already informed Malawi National Council of Sports [MNCS]. They asked us to submit the youth development programme proposal which the competition subcommittee is working on. So, as of now I can confirm the end of the Presidential Cup.”
However, FAM will maintain Presidential women’s football and beach soccer competitions.
“But the money that was going towards the football cup will now be for under-17 district teams who will compete at district level.
We will also use part of this money to train their coaches, referees and administrators. The idea is to identify under-17 players for the junior national team,” said Nyirenda.
Sports Council executive secretary George Jana confirmed getting communication from FAM on phasing out the elite cup, but said they were yet to get the full proposal.
He, however, said the new arrangement “fits in properly with Presidential Initiative on Sports objectives”.
Nyasa Big Bullets general secretary Kelvin Moyo hailed FAM for its decision, describing it as bold.
“There was a huge gap in terms of competition between elite and non-league teams. For example, a Super League team could win by a big margin,” he said.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary Williams Banda said the phasing out of the cup was a blessing in disguise.
“It will help in decongesting the crammed up football calendar,” he said.
But Nyirenda said FAM would find a replacement for the Presidential Cup.
“Super League clubs should not despair. FAM has already started negotiations with a corporate partner to sponsor elite football cup starting March 2017. We are confident that we will find a sponsor before the end of the year,” he said.
Nyasa Big Bullets won the 2016 edition after beating Moyale Barracks.