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Flames captain asks for Covid-19 support

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Gomezgani Zakazaka

Malawi national football team stand-in Captain, John ‘CJ’ Banda, has called for extension of Covid-19 support to foreign-based Flames players.

This comes after Netball Association of Malawi announced that it was supporting foreign-based national netball team stars with relief packages.

Banda, who plays for Mozambican side UD Songo alongside his brother Frank and Schumacher Kuwali, said Flames players are also finding life difficult as their clubs had effected cuts on their salaries.

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“Just like our home-based colleagues, we are finding life difficult to meet our needs following our club’s decision to cut our salaries by half with effect from April. Our situation is even worse because foreign players in Mozambique are not benefiting from the Fifa Covid-19 relief program in that country. We are being told that they have not received anything from the Mozambique Football Federation,” he said.

The former Blue Eagles captain said he approached Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Covid-19 Desk Chairperson, Gomezgani Zakazaka, but was told that it was not the association’s responsibility to extend the Fifa relief funds to foreign based players.

“For this reason, I am turning to the government. It should come in and help us because football is our only means of survival. Now we are back home waiting to return to our clubs, but life is hard,” Banda said.

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He said personally, he is finding the going tough with Kuwali as they applied for unpaid leave at Malawi Police Service to sign for UD Songo.

“This means we are not entitled to a salary as policemen. That is why we need support,” Banda said.

Zakazaka asked for more time to comment on the matter, saying he was tied up with other issues.

Lilongwe-based soccer analyst, George Chiusiwa, said the Mozambique-based players should ask Fam to find out from their Mozambican counterparts why they excluded foreign players from the relief programme.

“From my understanding, Fam is not using the Covid-19 money to help foreign-based players. The best approach to the matter is that CJ should approach Fam to talk to Mozambique’s football association officials to understand why foreign players are not being considered. Of course the government and companies can come in to help but it is not automatic that this would work out,” Chiusiwa said.

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