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Is off-season break long?

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There is debate on the current domestic football calendar which runs from April to December, paving the way for a four-month off season break.

Some argue that the long break deprives fans football games and that it can lead to players’ loss of form. But other observers believe there is nothing wrong with the off-season break.

In most leagues a season runs from August to May. Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and Football Association of Malawi (Fam) revised the calendar to avoid the rainy season which render most local pitches unplayable.

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Charles Nyirenda, the former Fam general secretary, in an interview last week called for a change of the calendar, claiming that it was diluting local soccer’s morale.

He blamed the calendar on Sulom when in actual fact, it is Fam that draws the football calendar.

“The league starts in April and sometimes in May and it runs to December. To the best of my knowledge, there is no any other country apart from Malawi that goes four months without football league. All other countries and those famous leagues we know do not exceed three months off-season,” Nyirenda lamented.

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“To the supporters, it means four months’ drought of local soccer. And that is the reason why most soccer lovers in the country switch their attention to international football leagues –– not that they do love those leagues but because they are desperate for football games, the demand which Sulom is failing to meet.”

He further said that the long-break was counter-productive to the players and the national teams.

But local players’ scout Ben Chiwaya has backed the local calendar, saying if offers teams time to prepare and scouts an opportunity to sign players in the January international transfer window.

“At the end of each season, it is time for me to sit down and review videos and other relevant reports so as to have a concrete assessment of players who have impressed in terms of performance as well as behavior. So for me the four-month-break is fine,” he said.

Sulom Treasurer, Tiya Somba- Banda, defended the trend, saying the football calendar is made under relevant circumstances.

He, however, said Sulom will sit down with sponsor, TNM and the league’s competitions’ committee to look at the stakeholders’ concerns.

“We have heard the concerns, but for now, I cannot say much. What I can tell you is that we will sit down with our sponsors and our competitions committee and we will come up with a football calendar for 2017,” Somba-Banda said.

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