The Chinese Embassy in Malawi has named international women’s football star Tabitha Chawinga as a friendship ambassador of the two countries.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Hongyan made the remarks when the embassy organised a celebratory dinner for the star.
He hailed the trail-blazing footballer for raising the Malawi flag.
“I got to know about her through the media and that motivated me and the embassy to organise this treat. We call her the ambassador of friendship between Malawi and China, not just in the world of football but more. She is the first Malawian woman football player in China and top best player. Many Chinese now know Malawi because of her.
“A few days ago, I learned that Chawinga made it to the final short- list of African Women’s Player of the Year by the Confederation of African Football [CAF]. She is the pride of the country,” he said.
Beaming with a smile, Chawinga pledged to continue supporting the sport locally through her international exploits.
However, she appealed to the corporate world, individuals and the government to support her endeavours.
“I have parents, relations and people in general who all look up to me in terms of financial support. Then I support the team that made me, DD Sunshine, by providing school fees for some of the players plus their accommodation.
“I would love if more stakeholders could come in and help with the little they have. Government can borrow a leaf from what others like China are doing. Otherwise, this lack of sponsorship means few chances for the women’s footballers playing, thereby affecting our national team’s performance, ” she said.
Chawinga, who edged Nigeria striker and African woman footballer, Asisat Oshoala to finish the 2018 top goal scorer in the Chinese Women Super League, says football academies plus huge interest from government have led to the development of the game in China.
Government representative at the dinner, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Francis Kasaila agreed with Chawinga on the need for more support towards women’s football in Malawi.
“The Chinese government has honoured our own and she needs encouragement plus support. It’s true we need to put more effort into women’s football which has shown the potential.
“If we can put in more resources, I am sure most of our girls can start playing professional football,” he said.
The minister said there is room for Malawi to benefit from China through sports.
“There should be an effort for us and the Chinese to try to create more space and activities for women football in particular. The Chinese government can bring to Malawi football teams to scout for talent. I am sure there is plenty of skilled players. When polished up, that benefit both the club and Malawi. This sector can get as much support as possible just like with infrastructure development,” explained the minister.
Before moving to the coastal Chinese province of Jiangsu in January, Chawinga finished as 2017 Swedish Damallsvenskan top scorer, with 25 goals.
Since arrival in China earlier this year, Chawinga has been an instant hit for the Jiangsu Suning Football Club.
She helped the team grab the Chinese Women Championship title after scoring 17 goals.