Malawi women football export Tabitha Chawinga is among the nominees for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Player of the Year award.
According to CAF website www.cafonline.com, the China-bound forward has been nominated alongside Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and Dalian Quanjian), Chrestina Kgatlana (South Africa and UWC Ladies), Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (Cameroon and Rossyanka) and Rutendo Makore (Zimbabwe and Black Rhinos).
She becomes the first Malawian woman footballer to be short-listed for the award.
The nomination follows her exploits in the Swedish top-flight league where she won the 2017 Golden Boot Award with 26 goals from 26 games despite her team, Kvarnsveden IK, being relegated. Last week, she also outshone the World Player of the Year and FC Barcelona star Lieke Marten to win the Swedish football’s ‘Forward of the Year’ accolade.
At this year’s Cosafa Championship, Chawinga finished as second top scorer with nine goals, one behind eventual Golden Boot winner Makore while Kgatlana emerged as Player of the Tournament.
If she wins the continental award, the former DD Sunshine FC striker will have five international accolades since joining the Swedish lower league in 2014.
“I am at a loss for words to describe my happiness following this latest nomination. God is doing great things for me and I thank Him so much,” Chawinga told The Nation yesterday.
While describing Chawinga’s nomination as exciting news for Malawi football, national women football team coach Stewart Mbolembole said the development should be an eye-opener for Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and the corporate world to invest in women football.
“This is exciting news for the nation and an inspiration to her fellow Malawian women football players,” he said.
“However, it is also something that FAM and the corporate world should look at. CAF has nominated her due to her exploits in Sweden and domestic women football need serious investment.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the local soccer governing body is serious with women football development and is pleased to see the fruits of its investment bearing dividends through Chawinga’s exploits.
“FAM is fully sponsoring the Women’s Under-20 League in the absence of corporate sponsorship with funding from the world football governing body Fifa. FAM also finances participation of the national team in international matches such as the recent Cosafa Women’s Cup in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“For your information, it is FAM that bought an air ticket for Chawinga to travel to Sweden for trials after we were approached by DD Sunshine owner David Dube. We are, therefore, pleased to see that the fruits of our investment are bearing dividends.”
The 21-year-old has become the country’s third football player (male and female players combined) to be nominated for a continental award after Flames’ legends Kennedy Malunga (1987) and the late Clifton Msiya (1984).