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Private stadia take stage

Malawi registering increasing private investment in football grounds

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George Kaudza Masina

While a number of public sports facilities are becoming an eyesore, private stadia are rising one brick at a time in some districts of the country, giving sports a glimmer of hope.

In the last few years, several people who have shown interest in investing in sports infrastructure.

The facilities are likely to spur development of football at the grassroots.

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For instance, state-of-the-art sports facilities have been constructed in Dowa, Mchinji and Machinga districts.

First, it was Answer Private School, situated in the remotest part of Dowa District, that constructed a modern football ground before Aubrey Dimba Stadium opened its doors to people at Kapiri in Mchinji District.

Recently, Champion Stadium was officially opened at Mponela in Dowa District.

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Despite being in remote areas, the facilities have already hosted Super League teams including Silver Strikers, Civil Service United, Blue Eagles, Kamuzu Barracks and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.

Interestingly, while the privately owned sports facilities are self-sustainable, some public facilities are in a perpetual state of want.

For instance, BAT and Lilongwe Community Ground are an eyesore.

Additionally, the government is failing to properly manage Bingu National Stadium, Civo and Kamuzu Stadium.

Government also owns community stadia in Karonga, Rumphi, Kasungu, Dedza Mulanje and Mangochi.

For Dimba Stadium, the owner invested personal resources to construct the facility, turning the once forgotten Mau Mau football community ground into a modern sports facility.

According to Dimba, he constructed the stadium to give back to the community.

“I have grown up in this area, which had no proper ground. I started slowly but I am happy that, now, there is a good football pitch,” Dimba said.

The newly constructed Champion Stadium is a game changer in Mponela.

Construction of stands and dressing rooms has already commenced.

Msaiwake Kavina said, once completed, the facility will be hosting some of the country’s high-profile matches.

“This is a step in the right direction in terms of football development in the country. Our aim is to develop football at the grassroots,” Kavina said on the day the facility was opened.

Police officer Kanduwa Sande transformed the once forsaken Kasupe football pitch in Machinga into a sports complex with facilities that include a running track, netball, court and climbing walls for children.

Sande started his work in 2011 and invested his personal resources and time in the facility.

Former Civil Service United vice chairperson Owen Malijani is also planning to construct a sports complex in Waliranji area, Mchinji District.

Once completed, it will have a football pitch and netball court.

Malawi National Council of Sports ( MNCS) Public Relations Officer Edgar Mtulumbwa said it was a welcome development.

“I think people have realised that sports is business. Again, people are also supporting government’s efforts to provide more infrastructures so that athletes are able to showcase their skills,” Mtulumbwa said.

Sports analyst George Kaudza Masina said the mushrooming of private stadia could be attributed to improved gate revenue collection in some stadia.

“Football is big business and people have seen that, if well-constructed, stadia can fetch money. The passion for football is very minimal but they are doing it for commercial purposes,’’ Kaudza Masina said.

In domestic football, ground owners get 25 percent of gross revenue at the end of every match.

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