Malawi National Council of Sports has summed up the just-ended African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games with a salutation to stakeholders who played a role in organising the country’s first ever hosting of a big multi-discipline international sports competition.
The Games were played at venues across Lilongwe, with Malawi’s athletes hauling in 37 medals.
The closing ceremony took place at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday.
Sports Council Board Chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise thanked the Local Organising Committee (LOC), chaired by Dennis Mombera for managing the Games successfully.
“The Games were far much better and bigger than the previous edition. And for the record, Sports Council did not organise the Games. Team Malawi was invited, like all other teams, to participate in the Games. The role of Sports Council was to be the overseer of Team Malawi.
“But, this we can say, considering the constraints that they faced, the LOC ensured we all had a great 10 days. In fact, our visitors have given rave reviews to the organisation and the facilities. Hats off to the LOC,” Madise said.
The chairperson said the Games had helped the sports fraternity get brand new infrastructure.
“We now have Griffin Saenda Indoor Sports and the Aquatic Centre at Kamuzu Institute for Sports. Hats off to Ulemu Msungama [former sports minister] who spearheaded construction of the two facilities and Minister of Sports Richard Chimwendo Banda, who effectively became a foreman to ensure the facilities were ready for the Games.
“The minister exchanged his ministerial suit for a dust coat and a hard hat. On the day that swimming was to start, the minister literally spent the whole night to ensure all the final touches were made. We salute him. We also thank the government for funding the construction works. Kudos to the government and we look forward to increased investment in sports,” he said.
On the economic front, Madise said the Games made a difference.
“The Games have also had a huge economic boost for surrounding areas. The hotels in the capital were all effectively booked up. Local business thrived. Every time I saw athletes from other countries in the city, I smiled, knowing pretty well that they had not brought Kwachas from their countries. Their presence meant an injection of forex into the economy. Sport is business; big business,” he said.
Madise also commended Malawians from all walks of life for supporting their fellow countrymen and women.
“We thank everyone who supported Team Malawi. Some came to the venues, others did not, but still were rooting for Team Malawi. For the last 10 days, the vibe was about the Games. Whether it was about the ‘chipidigoliro gelo’ or the free scoring Young Scorchers, Malawi was abuzz with Games fever. These Games were set up by our leaders in Sadc to bring together the youth and share our cultures. In this, Malawi came out with flying colours. The community in Lilongwe supported the Games 100 percent. Kawale thronged Kamuzu Institute for Sports in droves.
“Ntandire ensured the Griffin Saenda Complex and Bingu National Stadium were full and lively. For those 10 days, we forgot our problems. We forgot our sorrows. Maybe it can be summed up with what a colleague from Zambia said yesterday, at the closing ceremony: ‘How have you been able to fill up the stadium for youth games? This is unbelievable!’ Unbelievable? Believe it. We did it! Yes we did. It felt good to be Malawian. It feels good to be Malawian,” he said.
Madise said they will call for a debriefing session with affiliates to help map the way forward with the next Games scheduled for 2024 in Mozambique.
“We will call for a debriefing session with affiliates to find out what went well and what did not, and why? We need to ensure we build upon our success as we start preparing for the next edition of the Games in Mozambique. We have just concluded the Region 5 Youth Games. Wow!
“We continue to improve across most sports disciplines but, at the same time, we need to adopt a new approach in some sports disciplines. But we must salute our ambassadors, the athletes who represented the flag with passion, dignity and honour. Considering these are under 17, the future can only be bright. They deserve our collective applause,” Madise said.
He said Sports Council’s role is not to organise but to oversee, coordinate, regulate and control sport.
“Sports associations are the ones who identify sportsmen and women and create teams. Sports Council was not involved in the selection of athletes, coaches and technical panels. Sports Council merely provided funding and camping and logistical support and services. Of course, the beautiful tracksuits and shoes were provided by the council so that Team Malawi looks like the formidable team that it is,” Madise said.
Malawi Schools Sports Association President Blackson Malamula said the athletes performed very well, considering that it was their first international competition.
“These athletes came through our structures. We had various competitions which helped in identifying the right talent to represent the country. We can now proudly say that sport has a future in Malawi. All we need now is to nurture these young talents so that they continue performing.
“We will also continue to hunt for more talent all over the country so that whoever is good enough to represent the country should get that chance. Otherwise, we are very proud of Team Malawi’s performance. Going forward, we will be monitoring the young athletes through our educational structures on the ground,” Malamula said.