It must have been love, but its over now. Surestream Football Academy, a trail-blazing Blantyre football school that for four years re-defined domestic grassroots football, has closed shop.
In a press release that read like an eulogy, the academy’s managing director, Keith Robinson, cited parent company, Surestream Petroleum Company Limited’s failed oil exploration bid on Lake Malawi as among the chief reasons for the closure.
“The two main reasons for this decision are that the company is no longer the operator of the Licence for exploration for any oil exploration blocs in Malawi and this, coupled with the ever-decreasing price of oil on the world markets has led the company to the unavoidable decision to close the academy,” Robinson said in the statement.
“Surestream Petroleum would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters over the last four years, in particular the Football Association of Malawi (Fam) for their unwavering support over the lifetime of the academy.”
As a parting message, Robinson promised to hand over Chilomoni Township-based, Surestream Stadium to Fam “in superb condition.”
“It is now unarguably one of the best small stadiums in Malawi, Surestream having invested well in excess of US$ 250,000 in its restoration and upkeep. The company feels honoured to have been the custodians of the facility for so long. We sincerely hope it will be maintained in its current condition to the exclusive benefit of Malawi Football,” he explained.
That parting statement evokes memories of a dilapidated condition that the stadium under Fam, descended into.
However, Fam president, Walter Nyamilandu, while admitting that the closure would bring consequences, said they would try to maintain the stadium’s standards.
“It’s a sad development because this was an initiative put in place to fast-track the development of players who could play in Europe. It’s a lost opportunity. We understand that their involvement in football had strings attached. They have not been given a licence and that is beyond us,” Nyamilandu said.
The academy’s pioneer technical director, Peter Mponda, who parted ways with the institution to pursue his own dream under Wizards FC, on Monday, sounded as heart-broken as a widow.
“The bigger issue is that we have nipped in the bud careers of many talented players, who could have changed Malawi football for decades. I thank Chris Pitman for investing in this project. It is such a pity that greed by some people, including Malawians, has culminated into all this,” Mponda said.
It is hard to accept the harsh reality that the academy that unearthed gems such as Ernest Tambe, Isaac Mwale, Peter Msowoya, Levision Maganizo and Brighton Munthali, is now history.