The Malawi National Council of Sports believes the country’s sports standards can return to past glory if parastatals revive the golden years of sponsoring teams in various disciplines.
Sports Council board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise said this on Friday in Blantyre on the sidelines of a stakeholders engagement meeting ahead of the fourth edition of the Malawi Sport Awards set for Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on February 16.
Hanjahanja: Policy on sports sponsorship comes from government
He said: “If you noticed, when the parastatals stopped sponsoring sports, some of our disciplines and codes died and now we are feeling the effects.
“For instance, in football, we had so many State-owned companies sponsoring the sport at various levels from district to national. Even if you look at the golden years of netball, you will realise that there were parastatals that were sponsoring. Now, we only have a few sponsors and that is having an impact on sports growth in the country. We need the parastatals back in sports.”
State-owned companies and organisations such as Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), University of Malawi, Malawi Development Corporation, Blantyre Water Board (BWB), Malawi Housing Corporation and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation used to have football, netball or athletics teams in elite competitions until over a decade ago.
For instance, Escom United FC became a household name in football circles while Escom Sisters, now Kukoma Diamonds, was a giant in netball. The football club, founded in 1992, won three TNM Super League titles in 2007, 2008 and 2010 before disbanding in 2012.
Madise’s remarks come at least two years after Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola asked Escom management to consider resuming football and netball sponsorships as one way of promoting its brand and fighting mental health issues.
The minister was quoted in The Nation of February 10 2022 as having said: “I have asked Escom management to look into the aspect of bringing back netball and football sponsorships because today there are many mental issues taking place in our homes and even at the work place.
“To ease that pressure, we need to socialise by bringing back some of the activities which were there during the old days so that Escom can raise its flag in terms of social responsibility.”
BWB chief executive officer Robert Hanjahanja, who attended the Sports Council meeting, said his company has no problem to revive Water Wanderers FC as an active football team as long as the government changes its policy on sports sponsorship.
“Policy on sports sponsorship comes from government and if it decides to give it a nod, we would be more than happy to convert our social team into an active team,” he said.