MOST players all over the world wish for a coaching career after hanging their boots. But knowing that not all of them can achieve success in drilling players, others opt to become administrators.
For one Chimango Munthali, who chairs the National Youth Football Association (NYFA), becoming an administrator was his dream right from his playing days. The youthful administrator started playing football in primary school where he was not given a chance to play in the school team as the sports master said he was too small despite admitting that he was talented.
That did not discourage him as he still trained on his own until secondary school where he shone for both Phwezi Boys and Viphya private schools and reached Malawi Schools Sports Association Coca Cola finals on one occasion.
“I scored in the finals against Baka from Karonga and I remember we played against Chiukepo Msowoya’s team. I then went on to play for Chibanja United in the Mzuzu and Districts Football League, and later for Mzadd in the Super League in 2004. My first game was against Red Lions at Mzuzu Stadium.
“But my Super League career did not last because it coincided with my selection to Chancellor College. I opted to play for the college team after the then college assistant registrar Mr. Mark Zilirakhasu advised me against playing for any team at the expense of the college team and I obliged,” he narrates.
After completing his university education, Munthali played for Southern Region Football League side, Nyasa United for five years. During half of that period, he kept travelling from Lilongwe down to Blantyre just to play for the team.
Growing up in a football loving family, the NYFA boss was greatly motivated to look at football as serious business by his cousin, Rowland Msiska, who was playing for MBC Radiomen while doing his Bachelor of Engineering at the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi.
“He demonstrated to me that you can combine school and football and do well in both. I achieved that with his help. I can also proudly say that I continue Leading from grassroots to do well at work and football administration after retiring from my playing career.
“My football career was very short in my view. I really wanted to play football for as long as I could but sometimes choices have to be made. I opted to be in administration because I can do it at my own pace to accommodate my other responsibilities. As a player, I experienced a very organised youth development process championed by two coaches, Elias Gomile and Alex Ngwira [now coaching Super League side Mzuni],” he explains.
Munthali said the appetite for administration started in college where he was Chanco FC’s captain for three years. He also acted as Deputy Sports Director at the University of Malawi constituent college.
At Nyasa United, he recalls having been part of the leadership in resource mobilisation and also offered administrative and technical support. It was this experience that saw him being approached by Thoko Chimbali, now NYFA General Secretary, to consider joining the youth committee.
Munthali says he readily accepted the offer because he already had ambitions to venture into mainstream football administration. He says the move came at the right time when playing was becoming a challenge due to time constraints.
Munthali then joined football administration at regional level in the Southern Region Football Committee as an executive member and rose to the position of vice chairperson before joining NYFA as executive member. The NYFA system favoured him and his meteoric rise saw him get to the position of vice general secretary before assuming his current position of chairperson. He says the association, which is responsible for all youth football activities in the country, is planning big for the game.
“We are working towards enhancing the organisation of youth football in the country by ensuring that there is a clear development pathway for our youngsters. It is in this spirit that we are working on saturating districts with organised leagues for all the age categories from Under 14 to Under 19. It is my dream to see those who are investing in youth football reaping from it.
“Right now youth teams are being robbed and this needs to stop. We want people to continue investing in youth football. This can only be possible if player transfers are properly regularised. Otherwise right now the process leaves a lot be desired. Only Super League transfers attract the attention of the authourities. We also want to develop youth referees and coaches besides the players,” Munthali said.
The chairperson says NYFA, through his leadership, will continue to lobby with Football Association of Malawi to have active youth national teams if they are to build a strong national team that can qualify for big competitions.
“We will also try to reach out to neglected areas. We have already embarked on this drive by establishing district committees. Through them, we will move mountains,” he concludes.