Government has increased the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) funding from K120 million to K400 million, the first time the figures have been revised 10 years after the programme was rolled out.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha announced the adjustment during the 2020/21 proposed budget presentation in Parliament on Friday.
He said that football, which was getting K60 million, will now be bankrolled at K200 million while netball’s allocation has moved from K30 million to K100 million.
Said Mwanamvekha: “The President [Peter Mutharika] is committed to improving sport in this country, especially at grassroots level. In order to live up to this commitment, this government has increased sponsorship of the Presidential Cup to K400 million from K120 million.
“Of this amount, K200 million will be allocated to football, K100 million to netball and the remainder [K100 million] to cater for all other sports disciplines in all the districts,” he said.
The minister also announced a shift in administration of these sports activities from the Malawi National Council of Sports.
“Administration of all sports activities under the Presidential Cup initiative will be done through the Office of the President and Cabinet [OPC],” he said.
The PIS is a programme whose funds are distributed to over 30 sports codes so they can organise tournaments aimed at exposing and nurturing raw talent.
The football allocation previously used to carter for a competition that included Super League and regional leagues. But currently it has been restricted to district football.
Reacting to the increment, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu described it as a milestone.
“We have every reason to smile and celebrate the increased sponsorship. This is massive. The biggest sponsorship so far on the land. It’s a milestone,” he said.
Nyamilandu, an advocate of developing football through investment in grassroots structures, hopes that the increased funding will help football to succeed.
“We are going to break new grounds and transform development of football in the rural areas. Now we can seriously embark on developing football from bottom up so that we can identify raw talent in all the districts,” he said.
On its part, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu applauded government for the increase.
“The Initiative is NAM’s main talent development programme so we are happy with the hike in funding even though we could have loved if it could have been more considering the rising cost of living,” she said.
Bapu justified the need for more resources, saying: “You will appreciate that most clubs are self sponsored, so having cup competitions with good prize money would motivate them.”
However, Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya has branded the adjustment as “nothing”.
He queried: “The K100 million allocated to what they call minority sports is literally nothing. I am saying this because there are over 30 associations in that category. What change does it bring to them?”
Chitembeya also opposed the categorising of athletics as a minority, saying it deserves better.
“We are also surprised that athletics is categorised among minority sports when, in fact, it is the second biggest in the world.
“We would appreciate if athletics would be funded as a stand alone discipline like the case with football and netball. By the way, athletics is bigger than netball globally,” he said.
Athletics, like other minority sports codes, have been receiving K1 million to organise talent PIS identification tournament.
In the budget, the minister also announced that TNM Super League and top-flight netball teams will be allowed to import buses duty free.
He said: “In order to develop sports in the country, government has introduced a Customs Procedure Code under the Customs and Excise (Tariffs) Order to allow top-flight football and netball teams to import one bus, with seating capacity of 26 or more, duty free for every five years.”