Russell Mwafulirwa, Flames’ top scorer at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola, is clutching to the straws of his career that has been dogged by injuries, sidelining and denying him income for a year.
“It is quite hard taking money from your pocket all the time. I am a family man. I pay rentals and feed my family. It is quite hard, but I do not have pressure. I saved some. Russell is not finished until he announces hanging of his boots,” Mwafulirwa said in an exclusive interview from South Africa last week where he went for a medical check-up on his knee injury.
Weekend Nation had contacted the former Silver Strikers striker on whether he had called it time on his career for club and country. He last played for the Flames in June 2012 and for Swedish lower division side IK Sleipner in October the same year. He got injured while playing for Sleipner.
“I should return later in the season. I want to give myself time to heal properly. I will be back in Malawi. I only came here for bioknetics to check my muscle strength, then they will give me a rehabilitation programme. I was initially meant to be out for six months but doctors gave me an additional four months,” he noted.
The wheels of Mwafulirwa’s career came off early 2012 when he opted to severe ties with Swedish top side Norrkoping whom he joined from Ajax Cape Town of South Africa.
Since that time, the father of two tried out at University of Pretoria in South Africa in 2013, but doctors warned he needed more time to recuperate. He returned to Malawi where he received treatment at Beit Cure International Hospital in Lilongwe.
Mwafulirwa admitted that he once thought of seeking FAM’s help, but after making a verbal approach to the association’s officials, he did not pursue it further as “I did not want to seem like I am pressuring them”.
“If I can heal properly I can still play for Malawi. I am still part of the team. We have to leave a foundation for the young generation. The biggest challenge with the young Flames generation is that it plays individual football. Our squad that qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup was like a family. We played for each other,” said Mwafulirwa who scored two goals in three games in Angola.
FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda on Monday said Mwafulirwa had not approached them and if he did the possibility of help could depend on the responsible committee’s decision.
“We have an insurance cover for the players administered by Sports Council when the players are with the Flames, but it becomes a challenge when they are out of the system. Of course, we need to appreciate that he played for the national team. That is why we support initiatives for empowering players,” Nyirenda explained.