FAM president Walter Nyamilandu’s Raising the Bar manifesto has turned out to be a mixed bag, having achieved some of the promises and found wanting in others.
With about six weeks before the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) goes to the polls to elect a new executive committee, Weekend Nation outlines the key promises the outgoing leadership made ahead of the previous election in December 2019, which saw him being ushered in as president for a fifth term.
Nyamilandu, who has been in office for 19 years, is yet to state his position on whether he will seek a sixth term or not.
His achievements include increasing subventions for affiliates, introduction of medical schemes for Super League and regional women’s leagues’ players and Flames’ qualification for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Nyamilandu and his team have also delivered on the introduction of district leagues by taking football to the grass roots through up-down development, launching of Mpira Television and partial implementation of the Women’s National League.
But other promises remain a pipe dream.
Nyamilandu unpacking his Raising the Bar manifesto in 2019
These include establishment of a Flames Trust, introduction of the Zambezi Challenge Cup meant to be participated by top four clubs from Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Flames have also not won the Cosafa Cup and failed to qualify for 2023 Afcon as promised in the manifesto.
Provision of a starter-pack to clubs participating in Confederation of African Football (CAF) tournaments, women football having a technical director and construction of a beach soccer stadium are also yet to be fulfilled.
But in a written response response to a questionnaire, FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka said the Raising the Bar blueprint has been a success.
He said: “With the guidance of the Raising the Bar blueprint, FAM and its president have paved the way for a brighter future for football in the country.
“With historic achievements, stronger infrastructure and a commitment to nurturing talent at all levels, the future of Malawi football is indeed promising. Together, we have raised the bar.
“Among others, the Flames ignited the nation with their historic qualification for the round of 16 at the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon.
“Under the visionary leadership of FAM, we also successfully secured sponsorships for the Flames, through the FDH Bank Fund. Furthermore, we witnessed the enthusiastic participation of several corporate organisations, including Castel, Airtel Malawi plc, FDH Bank plc, and NBS Bank plc, who have generously sponsored cup competitions for elite clubs.”
He also said the introduction of the FAM District Cup has been instrumental in developing the game from the grass roots, “thereby making Malawi football more accessible and exciting for all”.
Zakazaka also said they intensified club licensing and implemented a modern player transfer system, ensuring a transparent and efficient football ecosystem.
“Player welfare has also been a paramount concern such that FAM’s partnership with the Medical Aid Society of Malawi [Masm] to provide medical insurance cover to Super League and regional women’s leagues players was a groundbreaking initiative,” he said.
Zakazaka also cited the Scorchers Cosafa Women’s Championship success, Salima Secondary School’s third-place finish at the inaugural CAF Africa Schools Championship and national beach soccer team’s qualification to the Beach Soccer Afcon, as fruits of the Raising the Bar Manifesto.
On the failed promises, Zakazaka said: “The Flames indeed failed to qualify for the 2023 Afcon and have not won the Cosafa Cup, but it is part of work in progress and that is why we qualified for the semis of theCosafa Cup this year.
“Likewise, creation of a Flames Trust and construction of the beach soccer stadium are also in the pipeline.
“It should also be borne in mind that some of our projects were affected by Covid-19, suffice to say Raising the Bar has provided the foundation and stepping stones to grow and achieve further milestones that were far-fetched.”
However, Sulom vice-general secretary Donnex Chilongo said despite featuring highly in Nyamilandu’s blue print, the flagship league’s only benefit was the increase in subvention from K7 million to K15 million.
“If we are to give an account of progress on what he promised Sulom, we can say one out of 10. What we can point at is the increase in subvention. Nothing else,” he said.
Chilongo said, he expects the new leadership that will be ushered in next month to be inclusive “and not selective like what has been the case with the present leadership”.
He said: “Sulom is a major affiliate and FAM should have interest in its affairs, not the other way around.”
Mzuzu-based football analyst Julius Mithi, a former FAM executive committee member, said: “We need to understand that Raising the Bar blue print implementation met a lot of challenges such as Covid-19, but generally, the current FAM leadership has done well. They have fulfilled quite a number of promises.”
Commenting on the promises to introduce a starter-pack for CAF tourney and the introduction of the Zambezi Challenge Cup, FCB Nyasa Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “Absolutely no implementation of such promises. If anything, It is the club’s initiative that we organise pre-season international club bonanzas. FAM does not come in with any support.”