In February, Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) embarrassed the country by failing to present medals to winners of the Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region (CAASR) Cross Country championship held at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.
It has now transpired that AAM nearly defrauded Malawi National Council of Sports when it asked for funding of the event which had already been funded by its regional body, the Confederation of Southern African Athletics.
After Sports Council realised that AAM did not declare what it received from CAASR, the national sports governing body is now asking for a refund of $3,000 (about K1,650,000) which it gave to AAM to host the event.
By not declaring that AAM will also receive the same amount of money from CAASR, the Malawian athletics body wanted to defraud Sports Council and I don’t think the money could have benefitted the athletes.
This is the problem in Malawi — our athletes are never well compensated and that is why athletics is not improving and is not attractive enough to inspire sponsors.
It’s exasperating that despite receiving funding from both Sports Council and CAASR, AAM failed to buy the medals, which is the ultimate prize for any athlete because it stands the test of time.
A medal is carried on from generation to generation as a pride of the athletes’ families and denying one is very unfortunate and to still not hand them out eight months down the line is sacrilegious.
And to give out an excuse that shops had run out of medals is really insulting us after it has transpired that the shops provided the quotations when requested to do so by AAM, but the body never returned to the shops visited.
Sports Council was even willing to assist the association in paying the medal suppliers using cheques but AAM only approached Sports Council on a Thursday evening for the event that was set to take place in 48 hours time — on a Saturday.
AAM is reported to have demanded hard cash to buy the medals but Sports Council insisted on paying through cheques. Sources say AAM could have bought just the winners’ medals instead of the top three and probably use the remaining money for officials’ pockets.
Sports Council is correct in asking AAM to refund the money because the association was not honest in its dealings, more especially for embarrassing the country in front of honourable athletes and officials from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
It was promised that the medals will be sent to the deserved athletes from those countries — what is their impression of this country’s sports administration? What a shame!
Sports Council should not just ask for the refund but also it should take AAM to task for not handing out the medals eight months down the line. AAM should not continue to embarrass the country like this.
Malawi is not supposed to be famous for wrong things like this. The level of sports in southern African countries, which was very low compared to Malawi, has and continues to improve.
Sports Council should do something about AAM’s administration over this issue rather than just asking for the refund.
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