Is joining army sides a solution?

George Chiusiwa

Malawi Defence Force has suddenly become the destination for most athletes that have opted for military career as opposed to sport.

Be Forward Wanderers lost their first choice goalkeeper Nenani Juwaya to MDF whereas unsettled Blue Eagles playmaker, Gregory Nachipo, left the cops to join the army.

The netball section also saw giants Kukoma Diamonds duo Alinafe Kamwala and Shira Kapasula Dimba leaving the club in favour of the army.


Kamwala is a national netball team player whereas multitalented Dimba plays for She-Flames and regularly earns Queens call-up. Another national netball team player, Martha Dambo, of Tropical Queens has also left her side to join the army.

However, one sports analysts Dalitso Chinyama, said most athletes were opting for the army due to job insecurity.

“Our athletes are not well paid so they feel joining the army is the only solution. This is where they are assured of salary at the end of each month,” she said.


Former Football Association of Malawi (Fam) General Secretary, George Kaudza-Masina, said most athletes opting for military training, shows that local players have now came to terms with reality that most if not all sports disciplines were short term careers which needs a fallback.

“Thus employment for survival after retirement or career threatening injuries. To address this mass exodus of athletes into the military fold, clubs should ensure that our athletes have something to lean on after retirement. Training in various disciplines can be a solution, and so too inculcating an entrepreneurship culture amongst our athletes,” he said.

Kaudza-Masina suggested that emphasis on formal education as it was in the 70s can also help produce athletes who are able to think about themselves and their future

“As it is, joining military sides is indeed a solution to sports career. Our football/netball is more of social far from even semi-professional. Club officials are using our athletes for their own benefit and the players have to survive too,” he said.

The sports analyst said at present, joining the military or Police was the best option.

“MDF teams have not been fair to themselves. Much as they are regular soldiers, if they are to build excellent athletes and footballers, they have to go professional,” he said

Kaudza-Masina also bemoaned the tendency of sending athletes/footballers to peace keeping missions has at times disturbed the performance of the teams.

“And knowing that no matter what result comes their way, salary will still be on its way to the bank can also be a detriment. All what is needed is a professional set up where sports should be their number one duty. As professionals, a mindset change as professionals will change everything for the better. Let our athletes/footballers/ netballers be assured of a future after their playing time and they will be motivated to up their game,” he said

He recalled in the past when Sucoma now Illovo used to do.

“All players with good education were being employed onto fields of their choice. Others were being trained on the job and most of them managed to qualify with grades in various fields. After hanging up their boots, they are still surviving unlike most of our so called big team where most of the stars of old, have ended up being destitute in our locations,” he said.

Another analyst, George Chiusiwa, echoed similar sentiments.

“That most athletes including footballers and netballers are now joining the MDF for a steady livelihood and a reliable source of living is not surprising at all. The reasons are many but some of them include the lack of professionalism of our football and netball leagues in Malawi as we have failed to adequately recognise and reward athletes for the wonderful work they do,” he said.

Chiusiwa said as a country, Malawi has failed to realise that these athletes were the key and integral stakeholders for various sporting disciplines.

“Club officials including managers and administrators have benefited from the game more than players in our country, hence making the football or netball unattractive to the athletes. Football or netball haven’t been marketed well to make clubs commercial entities where contracts for players can be respected. We have had so many instances of clubs failing to pay their players and athletes being duped after a transfer.

“In Malawi, we treat players as slaves and many of them play for fun and out of passion and not the monetary gains. Joining MDF could be a means for survival or to have a reliable means of earning a living,” he said.

To address this, Chiusiwa, suggests need to stop being amateurish in football, netball and other sporting disciplines.

“We should go professional by practice and not mere rhetoric. We need to start respecting our athletes by adhering to contractual obligations. Players, too, have a role to protect their interests. Players’ associations could resolve some of these problems by protecting their labour rights. Joining military sides could not be a solution, but our athletes have no choice. If they fail to clinch a deal with a foreign football or netball club joining MDF is the solution for many. Until we get organised professionally and stop running football and netball in a casual and amateurish fashion where clubs are deemed as social sporting entities with no commercial or professional purpose, we should expect more good athletes either joining MDF or quitting the game altogether,” he said.

Chiusiwa said it was important to remember that in the MDF playing football or netball was not the primary function of the agency.

“Sports is highly regarded because of the nature of work; but athletes do not expect to be treated like professionals simply because they play for MDF clubs in national leagues. Sports is regarded as part of the routine undertakings…part of the job of the employees whether for active or inactive athletes.

“However, we should also not forget that while under MDF we have seen some fine and brilliant athletes who have maintained their splendid performance. Some have even served national teams well. It boils down to a player’s attitude and primary objectives while in the game. We can’t generalise that performances of some players deteriorate because of money. It’s about personalities and individual attitudes towards new life environments and one’s ultimate goals as an athlete,” he said.

In conclusion, Chiusiwa quizzes why some excellent athletes in the MDF retired while putting up good performances and are still trusted and wonderful servants of either football, basketball, netball or boxing in other capacities as coaches?

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