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Sigh of relief

PART OF THE GAME—An injured player being stretched off the field

DONE DEAL—Nyamilandu (right) and Chikoti share notes

Long at last! Football players in Malawi have all reasons to smile after Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) signed a 10-year partnership with Football Association of Malawi (Fam) and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) on medical scheme insurance for players.

The partnership was signed at Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre yesterday. This is a landmark partnership between football stakeholders.

However, it remains to be seen if it would be implemented.

Masm Chief Executive Officer Sydney Chikoti said the tailor-made scheme dubbed Econo-Sport is worth K18 million a year.

Through the agreement, Masm would be meeting half of the K18 million starting from March 1 2021 whereas Fam would be paying the remainder on behalf of players.

“We want to partner football [stakeholders] for a long time and this will be a long-life deal. But for a start it will be a 10-year partnership reviewed every year. Our expectation is that we will get more visibility and understanding of our services not just among football players but the entire football fraternity,” Chikoti said.

The deal would cover 800 players from Super League clubs, women’s regional leagues and national football teams.

Apart from supporting the players during injuries, the medical scheme would also assist players during illnesses.

Chikoti said Masm saw a gap among Malawian footballers hence the partnership.

Fam president, Walter Nyamilandu, said the medical scheme would provide peace and total assurance for the players.

“Our players will now stop begging for help in order to get decent medical treatment whenever the need arises. What this means is that our players will be guaranteed to get first class professional medical attention by qualified practitioners,” he said.

Sulom President Tiya Somba Banda was also excited with the development.

“It’s sad when we look at the players’ illness cases we had. We failed our players on access to medical care. We did not look at their human aspect but just their on-field exploits.

“This deal moves us towards fulfilling our holistic view of players’ welfare not in isolated packages where we want them to have professional contracts with medical cover, mandatory wages and insurance. We will now explore the other two,” Banda said.

Football Players Association (FPA) General Secretary Ernest Mangani hailed the stakeholders for the partnership.

“The coming in of the medical scheme will bring motivation and satisfaction to the players. They will now enjoy their game and we will make sure that we are committed to this scheme,” Mangani said.

Several football players have had their careers shortened due to lack of proper medical care in Malawi.

Ntopwa FC owner Isaac “Jomo” Osman commended Masm for the gesture, saying clubs would benefit a lot.

Injuries have robbed the nation of several talented stars including Maxwell Chirwa and Ishmael Thindwa.

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