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Playing at owners risk

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With a month before the 2017 football season kicks off, Players Medical Scheme and Mpira Sacco, key projects that were aimed at improving footballers’ welfare, are dying a natural death.

For close to three seasons, Super League of Malawi (Sulom), Football Association of Malawi (Fam) and clubs have shown little interest in implementing the projects.

This despite that Sulom indicated that the projects would be mandatory for all TNM Super League teams.

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Sulom is reportedly lobbying Fam to incorporate the scheme in the Club Licensing System requirements.

Sulom Treasurer, Tiya Somba-Banda, said his body would be tough in the 2017 season.

“We did all the due process with Mussco on Mpira Sacco but the challenge has been to get the minimum threshold number of membership,” he said.

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“As for the medical scheme, the onus is on the teams to utilise the scheme. Now that we have made it mandatory in our constitution then it will be enforced through the rules and regulations in the 2017 season onwards.”

Fam is championing the formation of Players Welfare Association to address challenges which former and current players face.

However, the project is far from a reality.

Fam Transfer Matching System Manager, Casper Jangale, said the project was being implemented in phases.

“At least by April, we want to have something in place. We have a body that will speak on behalf of the players and it will be tasked to grow its membership. It is a gradual process. If we are willing to improve players’ welfare, we need to start from there,” Jangale explained.

Silver Strikers General Secretary, Thabo Nyirenda, whose club introduced insurance cover for the players, said his club could not wait any longer.

“The problem was that Sulom was giving us one medical insurer but some of us have several insurers. What could have happened was not to impose the medical scheme but allow us to choose the service providers,” Nyirenda said.

The insurance cover was meant to give compensation to players who, among others, suffer career-ending injuries.

On the other hand, Mpira Sacco was aimed at assisting footballers to embrace a saving culture. Many footballers are rendered destitute after retirement.

In the medical scheme, Sulom signed an agreement with Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) in 2015 soon after the death of former Nyasa Big Bullets Douglas Chirambo.

The late Chirambo struggled to access quality medical care.

The scheme targets football injuries for a maximum of 30 players per team at a contribution of K54, 000 per month.

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