For all its pride as a commercial hub, Blantyre City Council (BCC) has, amid scarcity of sports venues in Malawi, emerged as the only council that does not own a stadium.
So, what is wrong with the BCC?
Out of curiosity, Weekend Nation posed this question to the council’s chief executive officer Ted Nandolo on Tuesday.
“I should be asking myself this. It has been in existence for ages and, I came here two years ago. I do not know why we do not have one. I know some attempts were made that Kamuzu Stadium should be under the council, but it failed,” said Nandolo.
Old capital Zomba and current administrative capital Lilongwe city councils own community centre grounds which can host even Super League matches. Likewise, Mzuzu Stadium belongs to Mzuzu City Council.
But the closest BCC has been to sports and football in particular, is when they run the Mayor’s Trophy for primary schools.
Nandolo admitted that while the district boasts of sports facilities such as Kamuzu Stadium and Blantyre Youth Centre, there was still need for its own stadium.
“We are working on it. You remember the issue of the stadium that was initially meant for Blantyre, but it was shifted? It was our intention to build it. We are looking at the possibility of developing a stadium that belongs to us,” Nandolo explained.
He said they were talking to institutions over a triple P [Public, Private, Partnership] arrangement over stadium funding and construction.
“It can become a way of generating money. We think it is important to own one. We have had preliminary discussions and we will come out in the open once we agree,” Nandolo said.
It remains to be seen if indeed the BCC, which was unable to run recreation facilities such as the Blantyre Zoo, can run its own stadium successfully.
On Tuesday, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, whose body is also affected by lack of public venues for access to national teams, described BCC’s lack of a stadium as a missed opportunity to generate revenue.
“We need to lobby for them to consider having their infrastructure. We have seen other district assemblies such as Dedza and Balaka owning stadiums, why not Blantyre City Council? Nyamilandu noted.
Sports director Jameson Ndalama suggested that BCC may have overlooked the owning of a stadium due to the availability of other facilities such as Kamuzu Stadium.
Kamuzu Stadium is overused for almost all activities. Its closure, owing to safety concerns, led to Concerned Supporters forcing government to reopen it after cordoning off some condemned terraces. Elsewhere, cities own training venues which are separate from match venues.