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Blunders that failed to embarrass Malawi sports

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A national football team sleeping on the floor in an ambassador’s office. Athletes being barred from a competition after forgetting birth certificates, and failing to pay affiliation fees. Runners arriving in foreign land three months before a competition.

The list is endless. The bottom line is that when it comes to bringing sanity among sports national teams which represent Malawi in international competitions, no one seems to be in control.

As a result, there is an endless cocktail of gaffes. For a change, Malawi News reflects on the mother of the gaffes hoping someone can realise the meaning of embarrassment and put a stop to this madness.

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For all its claim as the mother body for all domestic sports associations, the Malawi National Council of Sports hides behind non-interference, whereas the Capital Hill is too obsessed with bureaucracy to act.

Result? athletes and teams go out and embarrass Malawi through ill-preparations, shabby dressing and abject performances.

Being the number one sport, football has contributed much to the shame of the nation but, the rate at which athletics and netball are blundering, one day the whole country shall wake up with egg all over face.

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Because they say sensible people are supposed to learn from history, Malawi News reflects on major blunders that have been committed in 51 years of Malawi’s Independence and explore why there are no lessons learnt.

This year alone, the Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) has gotten away with sports treason by hosting Confederation of African Football Southern Region Cross -Country at Njamba Freedom Park, and, yet, fail to dish out medals to winners.

The pretext was that medals had run out in shops in Blantyre while the shop owners spilled the beans that AAM only collected quotations and never came back.

The Sports Council could only go as far as admitting that the AAM had wanted cash to buy the medals and when told that only cheques would be paid direct to the suppliers of medals, no one showed interest.

As if that is not enough, AAM stands guilty of failing to disclose $3,000 it got from Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) to host the Njamba event, hence the Sports Council wants a refund.

AAM claimed it used the $3,000 it additionally received from the council to prepare Malawi athletes, but CAA insists the money was never meant for training, but logistics as AAM had assured it of more funding.

Well, irrespective of whatever administration is in charge of AAM, it seems blundering is in the association’s DNA.

However, credit should go to the current Godfrey Phiri-led administrations for being gentlemen enough to own up to all the gaffes.

Lest it be forgotten that in 2010, AAM took punctuality too far by dispatching a team of athletes to a continental competition in Kenyan three months ahead of schedule.

Kenya’s Nation Daily Newspaper could not extract a juicer back-page lead story than this which on April 27, 2010 screamed “Malawi arrive for Africa meet… three months too early!”

The newspaper reported that AAM justified its early arrival to the fact that they were unable to receive latest communication on revised dates for the race because at that time email systems for AAM had been down at the secretariat for a year.

“Yes, the team arrived on Monday and we had to check them at the YMCA, University of Nairobi,” said the championships’ media director, Peter Angwenyi. “Apparently, they did not know the event had been deferred.”

To be continued…..

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