While Malawian male footballers are struggling to earn prospects of playing in top European leagues, women’s football export Tabitha Chawinga is selling like hot-cakes with a French top league side Olympic Lyon chasing her signature.
Currently, Lyon are the top-ranked women football club in the world and are currently leading the 12-team French women football league with 27 points from nine games, two points ahead of second-placed Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
According to Fifa/Coca-Cola World Women’’s Football Rankings, the French league is among the world’s top-four leagues while the Chinese league is rated15th.
Chawinga yesterday admitted she is in dilemma on whether to accept a deal from the French club or complete her two-year contract with Chinese outfit Jiangsu Sunning, which she has helped to improve from 2017 season’s fourth-place finish to take the runner-up slot in the just-ended 2018 season.
“They approached me through my manager and I am in a quandary on whether to accept their offer. However, I will sit down with my manager to map the way forward,” said Chawinga, who has just returned home on holiday.
Lyon have approached the 22-year-old Malawi national women football team captain after her successful debut season in the Chinese league, where she has just won the golden boot award with 17 goals, seven ahead of her runner-up and African player-of-the-year Nigerian striker Asisat Oshoala.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu has described Chawinga’s prospects as a big boost to Malawi women football development.
“It is great that Malawian women players are attracting interest from top clubs in Europe. It shows that our talent is being recognised and Tabitha deserves it because she is that good,” he said.
“This is where our players, both male and female, should be playing. We need such kind of quality players to have highly competitive national teams.”
National women football team coach Maggie Chombo-Sadick yesterday said about Tabitha’s prospects: “She is an extra-ordinary talent that can succeed in any league in the world. It feels great to have someone who is putting Malawi women football on the international map.”
Chawinga has always been a prolific scorer both in domestic and foreign leagues since her professional football debut with Swedish league side Kvarnsveden IK.
She has so far, won four top-scorers accolades she grabbed her first foreign league golden boot on her debut season with Kvarnsveden in 2014 before repeating the feat in 2015 and in 2017, despite the Swedish team being relegated to the second tier league.
In the same year, she was named Forward of the Year during the Swedish Football Awards ahead of reigning World Player of the Year FC Barcelona’s Lieke Martens and she was nominated for the African Women Football Player of the Year. n