Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) board is concerned with dwindling standards of sports in the country and has cautioned sports associations to improve.
Sports Council board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise said, in an interview, that there is a need to overhaul counry’s sports structures to turn around the fortunes.
He said: “The sports trajectory has generally been on a down-spiral and we need to arrest this. We need to rekindle the flames and rejuvenate the desires. We need to put a stop to the downward plunge and reverse our fortunes.
“We all recall times when our various sports disciplines were the darling of Malawians. We need to get back to winning ways. We need a mindset change in the way we approach sports.”
Madise, who has served in various sports positions, among others, as Football Association of Malawi (FAM) vice-president and acting general secretary, Super League of Malawi founding president, Nyasa Big Bullets and defunct Escom United chairperson, said sports has the power to unite people from different political and religious backgrounds in the country.
He also appealed for a cordial working relationship and rapport between the council and sports associations.
Said Madise: “As a policy overseer, we must harness the good, but remove or at least reduce the toxicity. It’s important to realise that although we may have lofty ambitions for sports, we are not a sports association. It is the associations that manage and organise various sporting disciplines.”
The law lecturer at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said the council would also ensure that associations are operating and account to the nation through the council.
“In whatever we do, those of us in sports management must ask ourselves one simple question; how does what we
are doing improve sports in Malawi?
“As a board, we are ready to do our part to improve sports in Malawi,” he said.
But Madise admitted the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on sports.
“We are aware that various sports disciplines are struggling, especially the spectator spirts. Striking a balance between continuing with sporting activities and that players and spectators are safe, will be our key priority,” he said.
Reacting to the remarks, Football Association of Malawi general secretary Alfred Gunda, while admitting that the performance of athletes from various sports disciplines is poor, said funding is a stumbling block.
He said: “Athletes’ performance generally is a challenge as we have been recording low-rated results.
“Finances in running sport are a critical aspect because the cost is always high and involves a lot of international travel, which is costly.”
Gunda said sport in the country requires heavy investment in talent development and the integration of the youth in education, will be crucial to develop competitive athletes.
Volleyball Association of Malawi general secretary Jairos Nkhoma also concurred with his FAM counterpart, saying resources are the main challenge to sports development.
He said: “The government through Sports Council, allocates not much money in every financial year. We [VAM] submit a budget of K35 million to K45 million per year, but we only get K3 million to K4 million.
“It can be wise in future to empower associations by allocating funds as per submitted budgets. Apparently, football and netball associations get more funding than other associations.”
Nkhoma also urged government to come up with better incentives to companies interested to sponsor sports in the country.
In an interview on Friday, sports marketing analyst Kevin Moyo also urged Sports Council to work with associations to achieve its goal.
“Sports Council needs to guide sports associations to come up with comprehensive strategic plans on how to improve performance of athletes and on commercial viability,” he said.
On his part, sports analyst George Chiusiwa applauded Madise for coming out in the open to express his concern.
“The MNCS chairperson is an experienced sports administrator and ardent sports personality. He is very open enough and appreciates the problems rocking sports development in the country.
“Admitting that we have persisting and long standing institutional and technical challenges in the sport sector, is a good step for progressive leadership.”
He said most sports associations have organisational problems as they do not have well-defined structures.
“Many of the associations have problems to submit financial or audit reports as well as technical work plans and activity reports to Sports Council. These systemic institutional hiccups should be the focus of the new Sports Council board,” said Chiusiwa.
He also said there are leadership crisis in most associations as such electoral regulations, laws and procedures are often flouted when electing leaders.
“Many leaders in sports entities either impose themselves or are unprocedurally elected. For a long time most associations have banked on financial subventions from Sports Council. This is unsustainable and it is high time Sports Council crafted a good strategy that would impart business or commercial model in sports development in the country. the resolution.