The Ministry of Sports and Culture has excluded football, netball and basketball national teams from a delegation that will compete at the Africa Union Sports Council (Ausc) Region 5 Games in Angola in December due to lack of funding.
The development comes after the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development slashed the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) proposed budget from K3 billion to K1 billion in the 2016/17 national budget.
Over the years, Malawi has been sending team sports disciplines to the annual games previously known as Zone VI Games. As per the competition conditions, netball and football are represented by junior sides.
In an interview, chief sports officer Joseph Mazaza said that the lack of funding has been worsened by the long distance to the hosting country.
“Angola is far away from here. What it means is that the athletes will have to go by air. By shunning the team sports, it means we will be able to send a manageable delegation,” he said.
Recently, the games were played in neighbouring Zambia and Zimbabwe and the Malawian athletes travelled by road.
Mazaza further disclosed that the local athletes travelling to Angola will from among other sports codes be drawn from boxing, judo, athletics and lawn tennis.
“We will take a delegation of 54. Out of those 42 will be athletes while the rest will be officials and coaches,” he said.
Malawi Under-20 national football team won gold during the 2008 games. Among other players, the tournament exposed the talent of the current senior team players Limbikani Mzava and Robin Ngalande.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda described football exclusion as understandable, but a blow to the development of soccer.
“The ministry has informed us about the decision. The tournament helped our young players to gain international exposure as evidenced by some of the players that earned recognition through it,” he said.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rosy Chinunda said they wanted to use the AUSC games to help the newly-formed Under-21 national team to continue gaining international experience.
“The junior Queens failed to qualify for the World Youth championship last month because they don’t have experience. Being in Angola could have helped them to gel and be prepared for future. It is sad that have been excluded,” she said. n