The good news was announced Thursday at a joint press briefing addressed by the petroleum firmâ€™s general manager for Malawi, Keith Robinson, and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu at Chiwembe Technical Centre in Limbe.
Robinson said the company does not expect to benefit anything from the venture, but hopes that the move will help develop the local game to greater heights so that the country can produce world-class players in the mould of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi not long from now.
“We have a licence to explore oil. We have been here since last October and as part of our involvement, we have set up social activities and one of these involvements will be to assist FAM in setting up a football academy.
“The idea is that FAM identifies the best talent and nurtures it and [then] train that talent with the view that it will bear fruit for the Malawi national team. We intend to be with FAM for a minimum of three years. So, the project is not a short-term thing,” said Robinson.
He also confirmed that SureStream will refurbish MDC Stadium to the tune of $200 000 [about K33.5 million].
That is not all. Robinson also announced that another $200 000 will be spent on equipment for the next three years.
He also pledged that the academyâ€™s outstanding graduates will be attached to academies in England for further training where SureStream directors have links with some clubs.
“When we started to talk to both FAM and the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, we were impressed with the level of commitment and expertise and it gives us hope that the project will succeed,” he added.
He also said the idea is that the youth should be given professional level of training and try to get them exposed to high-level international competitions.
Nyamilandu described the development as a milestone in Malawi football as it will be the first academy on the domestic scene.
He said as a starting point, FAM will be looking at children between the ages of nine and 14.
“It [setting up an academy] is a dream come true. It is a vision that has been shared by many Malawians for a long time. It should, therefore, give hope that Malawi football will have a bright future,” said Nyamilandu.
He conceded that as a result of lack of proper youth structures, Malawi has been unable to find a consistent way of winning.
“So, it will be bent upon us to produce top-notch players. Therefore, it will require that the coaches must do the right things,” said Nyamilandu.
He also announced that following the partnership, MDC Stadium will now be called SureStream Stadium and will be open to local games during the weekends.
He also said as part of the memorandum of understanding (MoU), FAM will erect an artificial turf that has already been secured from Fifa.
Nyamilandu further said for a start, the academy will be non-residential and FAM will attach two full-time employeesâ€”its technical director Jack Chamangwana and newly engaged grass roots manager Patricio Kulemeka and that the former will be the head coach.
He said the criteria will be that the students at the academy will strictly be school-going children.
Nyamilandu and Robinson also said the three-year deal, which will be signed upon completion of the stadium refurbishment, is subject to renewal depending on the success.