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Thumbs Up league in early Preparations

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By Ronald Mpaso

Preparations for the 2019 Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) Thumbs Up League are scheduled to begin today with a stakeholders’ meeting at Football Association of Malawi’s Mpira House in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre.

This will be the first time in several years that the regional league has commenced preparations in time after facing challenges with the presentation of prizes to teams in previous seasons.

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SRFA Chairperson Raphael Humba said the meeting will involve representatives from teams in both the Premier Division and Division One.

Humba said there will also be representation from teams that intend to join both divisions this season and sponsor Rab Processors, manufacturers of Thumbs Up drinks.

“We have taken off and there is no going back. In the past years, we were unable to begin preparations in line with the harmonised football calendar but this time we are on course. We are certain that our league will kick off on April 6 and end in December,” he said.

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Humba said the meeting will review the performance of all stakeholders in the 2018 season and plan for the new season.

He said registration of teams for the 2019 season will also commence today and end on March 31.

“The current fee for joining the Premier Division is K180,000 while for Division One, teams pay K160,000. But we want to hike the fee by K20,000 in both divisions because of the rise in the cost of services.

“The meeting will also discuss this. It is necessary to effect the hike because we have not done so for the past three seasons,” Humba said.

On a positive note, Humba disclosed that there will also be an upward adjustment on the prize money that teams get at the end of the season.

The Premier Division champion for the 2018 season got K1.8 million while the runner-up received K1 million.

In Division One, the winner walked away with K1 million whereas the second-placed team pocketed K500,000.

But Humba said teams should expect to get more this season as the new sponsorship package is now at K14 million from last year’s K11 million.

Nyasa Big Bullets Reserve won the regional league’s Premier Division title while Ciso emerged victorious in Division One.

The new season is set to kick off on March 30 with the Chifundo Charity Shield which will involve four teams at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

The four are TNM Super League champions Nyasa Big Bullets, Carlsberg Cup winners Masters Security, Fisd Challenge Cup kings Be Forward Wanderers and Blue Eagles who are holders of the Airtel Top 8 Cup.

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