By Tiyese Monjeza:
Some kickboxers, who took part in the National Kick Boxing Championship on Saturday, cried foul over the K20,000 prize money for champions, which they described as a pittance.
Those on second and third position received K15,000 and 10,000, respectively.
The competition, which took place at China Complex in Zomba, attracted 46 kickboxers from across the country.
It was organized by Malawi Kick Boxing Association (Makba), with support, amounting to K1.2 million, from the Malawi National Council of Sports.
From the onset, there were signs of poor preparation, with some kick boxers seen borrowing head guards from fellow kick boxers while others differed on the rules of the game.
Yamikani Matembeka from Blantyre Youth Centre, who won the national heavyweight championship, said K20,000 prize money was on the lower side as compared to money kick boxers spend on national competitions.
“Just imagine; others travelled from Mzuzu to Zomba just to get this amount. Mind you, after these games, we need money for medical checkup and treatment and we need a good diet to be able to compete. I would have loved if Makba did better [than this],’’ Matembeka said.
Saith Gama, a mixed martial arts coach, said the association should invest in finding recommended kickboxing rings to avoid exposing players to injuries.
‘‘You can notice that there were lots of injuries. This is because the makeshift ring was not conducive for kickboxing. They also need to source head guards and sponsor some kick boxers to train at the best gyms in the country,’’ Gama said.
Makba President Benedicto Tsinde, who attended the championship event, attributed the prize money package to lack of resources.
He called on companies to help in promoting the sport.
“Lack of resources is hampering the association’s plans to promote grass root kickboxing in schools to unearth more talent,” he said.
Tsinde said sponsors continue to overlook other sports disciplines while concentrating on football and netball.
“The sport was just introduced in the country some two years ago and we are still trying to popularize it. It is always hard to find sponsors and that is why you heard kick boxers raising a number of concerns. We are in the process of learning and believe partners will help us introduce regional tournaments,” Tsinde said.
The competition’s organiser, Bright Limani, said they expect to conduct a ladies’ championship event before the end of year to ensure females are also participating in the sport.
Unlike during previous events, there were medical personnel who provided first aid support to the kick boxers.
Dan Disi won in the under-54 kilogrammes (kg) category while Moses Banda won in the under 59 kg.
Other winners included Lawrence Chigago and Thaxy Kamneni, who triumphed in under 64 and under 69 kilogrammes category, respectively, while Mphatso Taulo won the junior championship.