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Lilongwe Community Centre crumbling

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Crumbling terraces, no perimeter fence, bumpy and dusty football pitch and dry rusty taps- this could probably be the most appropriate description of what used to be one of the country’s well-known sports venues, the Lilongwe Community Centre.

The facility has been there for ages- spanning the regimes of all of Malawi’s leaders, making it qualify to be called one of the oldest sports facilities around.

For one who is trekking into the Capital City from Blantyre using the M1 Road, Lilongwe Community Centre immediately becomes an eyesore and one structure that deserves the Red Star mark.

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And the facility becomes even more misplaced considering that it stands just behind the magnificent Simama Hotel which welcomes travellers to the country’s administrative headquarters.

It would be very easy to conclude that the sports venue does not suit the environment it is in and surely needs to be razed down.

The place spoils the surrounding air with its stinking toilets that are rarely maintained. It is not difficult for anyone to conclude that the facility was long-forgotten by those who were supposed to be looking after it.

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Lilongwe Community Centre should have been one of the best sports facilities considering that it is located at the hub of the Capital City.

It is easily accessible from all corners of Lilongwe as it stands a stone’s throw away from the main bus depot.

One just catches one bus from any part of the city to get to the sports venue, making it a very convenient place for all sorts of games.

But for close to five years, the facility has always looked abandoned and neglected.

Managed and owned by the Lilongwe City Council, the venue used to be very reliable that it even hosted both international matches during the days of the country’s first President Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Super League matches were still being played there until up to slightly more than a decade ago.

The place used to be the pride of fans from Kawale, Mchesi, Area 23, Biwi, Falls and other surrounding areas and they cherished it at all times.

For now, Lilongwe Community Centre can only host some volleyball games and weddings from the little that is left there.

With no perimeter fence and a run-down bare pitch, the facility cannot host a football match of repute despite having the potential of being a cash cow.

It is baffling to think of the reasons why the city council is not taking advantage of the rising number of Super League teams in the Central Region to renovate the facility and make it available to such teams.

No wonder, some teams from the city are now going as far as Dedza to play their home games when they should have been using facilities like Lilongwe Community Centre.

Two to three years ago, the facility turned into a boxing arena but organisers are now shunning the place opting for M1 Centre Point.

The council’s spokesperson, Tamara Chafunya, said plans were put in place to improve the facility by placing it under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) but bidders were offering low prices.

“We floated an expression of interest for management of the ground under the provision of PPP. Evaluation was done. However, no winner was identified because the bidders were offering low prices compared to our expectations. We are therefore considering re-advertisement of the same.” Chafunya explained.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) reportedly expressed interest to bid for management of one of the facility.

Two years ago, the council announced plans for the upgrading of the facility’s shops and dressing rooms with an estimated K5 million being allocated for the project.

Lilongwe Community Centre has netball, volleyball and basketball courts, mini-shops and offices for its staff, some of whom are housed within the premises.

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