Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu and his executive committee on Monday quietly celebrated a year in office while reflecting on the challenges in implementing his much touted ‘Raising the Bar’ manifesto.
The FAM president won a fifth consecutive term against ally-turned-nemesis James Mwenda on December 14 2019 in Mangochi, promising to transform football through his ‘Raising the Bar’ manifesto.
A year later, Nyamilandu has admitted that it has been tough implementing the manifesto due to Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “We are celebrating ‘Raising the Bar’ which we launched last year and it’s been encouraging to see that we have made some strides in the midst of several challenges, particularly Covid-19 when there were no activities due to suspension of football. The executive committee was not deterred by the pandemic.
“We did not just sit on our laurels and say life is doom and gloom. No. We reached out to our stakeholders and gave them Covid-19 relief support which is a milestone in the history of Malawi football.
“We spent a lot of money on stakeholders. We are still spending a lot of money and we demonstrated that we are transparent.”
“We rolled out transformational projects in the absence of football. We are talking of television broadcasting, e-ticketing. In the course of the year, we also launched district competitions targeting grass roots and rural football.
“We are hopeful that in the New Year this will take off. We fulfilled most of the issues in the manifesto to do with our communication with the public. We have a monthly magazine where we keep the public updated.”
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) featured highly in the manifesto in which Nyamilandu promised to empower the affiliate to champion the realisation of ‘Raising the Bar’.
FAM has fulfilled a pledge to lease out Chilomoni Stadium to Sulom while the hiring of a chief executive officer by subsidising the costs awaits amendments to Sulom’s statutes.
The association has also increased subvention to all affiliates as promised in the manifesto.
The blueprint also promised to transform women’s football through increased funding. So far, women’s football got the lion’s share of K375 million through Fifa’s project.
National team players’ allowances and bonuses have also been adjusted upwards with senior players getting K500 000 for a win and a fixed appearance fee of K200 000.
But plans to introduce a national league for women’s football, establish a permanent secretariat for the women’s football association and recruitment of women football technical director are yet to materialise.
The administration is also yet to introduce a minimum wage for players in the Super League and in regional leagues and establish the Flames Trust in an effort to improve the welfare of national team players.
Nyamilandu also promised to lobby for multiple sponsorships for the Super League by unbundling the sponsorship packages such as league naming rights.
Raising the Bar also promised to facilitate the introduction of Zambezi Challenge Championship for top four clubs from Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
All these are yet to be fulfilled, a development Nyamilandu blamed on Covid-19.
“A lot of strategic issues were on hold. We are hoping that in 2021 we can roll out most of these things,” he said.
The FAM president also envisioned ‘Raising the Bar’ culminating in winning the 2020 Cosafa Cup and qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
However, the year saw not only the Flames but also junior teams the Under-17 and Under-20 as well