By Peter Fote & Ronald Mpaso
A window of opportunity has opened for 19-year-old Malawian striker Yamikani Chaima to join one of Spain’s football academies, Alicante.
Yamikani applied to join the academy while at International School of South Africa in Mafikeng.
The forward is expected to team up with another bright talent, Zizwa Hanjahanja, who joined the academy last year.
The football institution has since registered Yamikani on a document dated February 11 2020.
The academy booked accommodation for Chaima, indicating his date of arrival as March 1 2020.
Alicante Football Academy Director, Lauri Nakstroem, said Yamikani had been registered as their player.
“We hope that he will join us soon. We expect to process his visa as soon as the coronavirus travel ban is lifted. We have all his passport details and we are just waiting to complete all the processes,” Nakstroem said.
He said if Yamikani excels, there is a chance that he could join Spain’s Third Division.
“We will be with him for four months. His future will depend on what he does on the pitch and how many offers come from clubs. If he is good enough to play in Spain’s Third Division, the club will offer him a salary and accommodation.
“If his level is not good enough, he can sign for a lower division team but without a salary. We also offer our players a study program. Besides playing, they also study coaching.
“The players train together from Monday to Friday in the morning. Depending on their respective performance levels, we present the players to different clubs,” Nakstroem said.
Yamikani’s father, Thom, said his son would have already been in the European country by now but failed to travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I want my son to excel in both sports and education. I consider the two as keys to a better future. The academy finds clubs for players in Europe within two months and I believe my son will make it.
“Yami has a bright future and is a big prospect for our national team. He is pacy and his trickery on the ball is amazing. He sent some video clips with his application and the academy was convinced that he was good enough,” Thom said.
He said to maintain his fitness levels as waits to leave for Spain, Yamikani is training with Bullets second assistant coach Fischer Kondowe at Kamuzu Stadium.
“Fisher takes Yami through one-hour sessions every day to help him raise his endurance and speed. He will leave as soon as flights to Spain resume,” Thom said.
He said as a parent, he was pleased with Yamikani’s performance both in class and on the pitch in South Africa and it was unfortunate that Covid-19 has delayed his departure for Spain.
Yamikani said he believes that he would make the grade and fulfil his dream of playing professional football in Europe.
“My passion for football started when I was in Standard Five. I have grown up idolizing [Real Madrid midfielder and Fifa 2018 Player of the Year] Luka Modric.
Playing in Europe has been my dream and I will work hard to achieve my goals.
“It is obvious that I will face stiff competition but I know what I want. I do not want to fail and return to Malawi. Zizwa’s presence at the academy will also help me to settle down quickly,” he said.
Yamikani said he was learning a lot from Kondowe who also inspired him as a child.
“Fischer has a lion’s heart and a Mercedes Benz engine. Despite being advanced in years, he runs with me like a teenager. I hear he has been around for more than 15 seasons playing active football but he does not show any signs of wearing out. I could not have picked a better trainer,” the soft-spoken youngster said.
Europe has some of the world’s best leagues and most football players around the world dream about plying their trade there. Malawi is yet to send a player to any of the top leagues in Spain, England and Germany, unlike neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.