By Isaac Salima
The country’s soccer fraternity was over the moon Wednesday as Airtel Malawi announced the return of the Airtel Top 8 Cup.
The announcement cleared the mist surrounding the competition’s future after expiry of the inaugural three-year deal in 2019.
To make the news even sweeter, the mobile network service provider announced that the competition’s three-year package has been increased from K198 million to K234 million.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the contract renewal agreement at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre, Airtel Malawi Managing Director Charles Kamoto said he was excited to announce the cup’s return.
“At Airtel, we love football and we always look forward to opportunities to partner the game through various initiatives. After Covid disturbed us last year, we had to find a strategy. This is how we have returned to give back to Malawians their beloved cup. We look forward to a competitive tournament and an exciting year for the whole nation,” Kamoto said.
From the total package, K75.4 million will go to this year’s tournament, with the champions pocketing K17 million, up from 2019’s K15 million.
Each participating team will also receive a starter pack of K1 million while the golden boot award winner and player of the tournament will get K500,000, respectively.
Football Association of Malawi President Walter Nyamilandu described the competition’s return as good news to the soccer fraternity.
“The sponsorship renewal could not have come at a better time than now when the Malawi National Football Team has qualified for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals. Airtel Top 8 is the most competitive elite cup as it brings together the top eight elite clubs on the land. It is from these clubs that the bulk of our national team players comes from,” Nyamilandu said.
Nyamilandu further said he is pleased that Fam had maintained all its sponsors this season.
“The return of Airtel Top 8 Cup will enhance competition among Super League teams which will not only be fighting to avoid relegation but also to finish in the top eight category so that they qualify for such a competition. We intend to start the competition in November,” he said.
The top eight teams in the TNM Super League will participate in the competition as has been the trend since its introduction in 2017.
Silver Strikers are the defending champions after beating Karonga United 1-0 at Bingu National Stadium in 2019.