Malawi football has faced a number of challenges in its quest to develop world class players, but that could be history following Fifa’s provision of K30 million towards the introduction of an Under-15 football league.
The league has been touted as the missing link in turning the country’s football fortunes.
According to Football Association of Malawi (Fam) technical director, John Kaputa, the league is the first of its kind in Southern Africa and only the second in the whole of Africa after Cameroon benefitted from the same initiative.
He said the project would run on a pilot basis for the first two years.
In the first season kicking off next month, 11 teams from the Central Region and seven from the Eastern Region would participate.
“Each team has 20 players from primary and secondary schools. The teams will play home and away games to determine the champion in each district. We submitted a budget for every team to Fifa therefore all the costs, including provision of equipment, are catered for,” he said.
Kaputa added that his office had engaged top coaches to help in nurturing the young talent.
“We have appointed a coach and his assistant for each team. These coaches are highly qualified and most of them are Caf B Licence holders that took part in the Caf A Licence course. We want them to give the kids the right knowledge for them to realise their potential,” he said.
Kaputa said best players from the league would form a future junior national team.
“The best players from the league will be camping at Chiwembe Technical Centre during holidays so that they can learn more. We want the group of talented players from the league to be in our Under-17 national team in two years’ time. In that way, we can make big strides at the international level,” he said.
In preparation for the onset of the league, the coaches are currently undergoing a week-long coaching course for youth football development which is being facilitated by Fifa instructor Dominique Niyonzima.
Fam president Walter Nyamilandu said Malawi football’s landscape would change following the introduction of the Under-15 league.
“We only have the Coca- Cola Schools Tournament that gives the young girls and boys that are in school an opportunity to play football. That is why we need an Under-15 football league for them to play football actively,” Nyamilandu said.
“As they are developing their skills, they have to be in the hands of highly qualified coaches who will teach them the basics. They need qualified coaches so that they should develop. That is why we organised a training course for the coaches to be equipped with the technical know-how in youth football development.”
Niyonzima said Malawi was in line with Fifa’s goals for youth football development.
“Fifa introduced the grassroots programme which caters for children in the ages between six and 12 to compensate for the lack of academies. They [Fifa] then realised that there was a big gap between grassroots football and the senior level that is why they came in with this youth development programme that has been only launched this July. Malawi was chosen because of the other existing programmes. I can say Malawi is lucky because this is a great opportunity,” he said.
Fam will run the league with assistance from the National Youth Football Committee.
Some of the coaches involved in the programme are Millias Pofera, Franco Ndawa, Stereo Gondwe and Mike Kumanga.
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