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Fam warns against training resumption

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Alfred Gunda

Football Association of Malawi Fam (Fam) has said clubs that have returned to training without its consent risk sanctions.

There have been reports that several TNM Super League clubs have regrouped as they look forward to commencement of the 2020 season.

Fam proposed to the government that the new season should kick off in August after it failed to commence on March 21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The country’s football governing body submitted the proposal during a meeting with Youth, Sports and Culture minister Francis Phiso on Monday in Lilongwe.

Deliberations on the commencement of the season continue Saturday in Blantyre where Fam is expected to share a roadmap with stakeholders.

The country’s football governing body was compelled to act on the matter after a group of supporters delivered a petition demanding the lifting of the game’s suspension.

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Besides calling off all competitions scheduled for the season, Fam had ordered all clubs to suspend training as one way of ensuring the safety of stakeholders in the game.

But there have been reports of some teams resuming training in groups as they anticipate a return to action in August.

A press release issued Thursday and signed by Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda, stated that training sessions and matches were not allowed until the association gets permission from the government.

“The Football Association of Malawi would like to notify all member associations and football clubs that under Covid-19 preventive measures rules, association football trainings and matches remain suspended.

“Fam has noted that some football teams under association football are planning to return to training. Football clubs are therefore requested not to contravene the government rules on Covid-19 preventive measures,” the release reads.

It goes on to warn that failure to comply with the rules would attract sanctions that include suspension from the Fam Covid-19 relief programme other measures that may be deemed suitable in line with the association’s disciplinary code.

“In the meantime, Fam is working with the Malawi government towards resuming football in the safest manner possible. A joint meeting of Fam, Ministry of Sports and health authorities is expected to take place this weekend to provide guidance on measures and procedures for a safe return to training and will include guidance on when and how to resume training.

“In the meantime, all football stakeholders are urged to continue following Covid-19 preventive measures by, among others, observing social distancing and maintaining strict hygienic rules,” the release concludes.

One of the teams that have returned to training is Ntopwa and its Technical Director, Isaac ‘Jomo’ Osman, said they only wanted to assess their players after about three months of training from home.

“We only regrouped on Wednesday for some light training sessions. All we wanted was to examine the fitness levels of our players and ascertain whether they were indeed following the home training programs as given to them by our technical team.

“These were not serious training sessions. We just thought it wise to recall our players after learning that our fellow Super League teams are also doing the same,” Osman said.

Seasoned football journalist, Kelvin Moyo, called on teams to wait until the suspension is lifted.

“Fam ordered the clubs to stop their training sessions after getting advice from the government. The fight against coronavirus can only be won if we work together. It is surprising that some clubs are deliberately disobeyed clear orders from Fam.

“I have also heard that other clubs are returning to training next week. It is my hope that this will not happen, otherwise we will be painting a bad picture to the outside world. We need to respect decisions made by football authorities at all times,” Moyo said.

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