Football Association of Malawi (Fam) president, Walter Nyamilandu, has insisted that the 2020/21 football season can still kick off despite the threat of games being played under rainy conditions.
The country’s football calendar starts in April and ends in December to minimise disturbances from rains as pitches in most match venues do not have effective water drainage systems.
Commencing the season between anytime now and end of the year would mean that most games will be played at the peak of the rainy season, exposing matches to postponements as the majority of local pitches flood and become unplayable each time it rains.
Fam submitted a football restart roadmap to the government with the hope that by end of this month, a decision on whether to kick off the season or not will have been made.
It is expected that the country’s football governing body will be forced to cancel the season if a decision is not made by then.
Nyamilandu said football will still have to be played regardless of pitches’ conditions across the country.
“Our players should just accept the reality of playing under such conditions when football returns. If anything, it is the supporters who will have a tough time watching football under rainy conditions.
“Playing under rains is not a concern to professional players in our neighbouring countries and Europe. Our players should just prepare for these times. We have to get started,” he said.
However, Silver Strikers Chief Executive Officer Thokozani Chimbali said he was not comfortable with playing football in the rainy season.
“My worry is that most of the pitches in the country, except Kamuzu Stadium, are unplayable during the rainy season. This is going to be another big challenge and we are concerned,” Chimbali said.
Nyasa Big Bullets Chief Administrative Officer, Albert Chigoga, said football authorities should allow the season to commence and maximum on usage of venues that have a proper drainage system.
“There is nothing Fam can do about the current situation. Commencement of the season is only possible with government approval.
“We are cornered. We just have to play football. The season cannot wait until next year. Once the government lifts the suspension, authorities should assign most of the matches to venues that have a proper draining system to avoid player injuries,” Chigoga said.
Bullets captain John Lanjesi also concurred with Nyamilandu, saying it was possible to play football during the rainy season.
“Time is no longer on our side. Rains or no rains, football must be played. What the Fam president is saying is good for the game because at the end of the day, it is football that will win.
“We have been inactive for over half-a-year and it is time we returned to the pitch. We are not ready to lose this season. Let football begin,” Lanjesi said.
The season’s kickoff was called off after the government declared a state of disaster on March 20 to control the spread of coronavirus.
In a bid to assure them about their safety should the season commence, Fam called Super League club captains to a meeting at Mpira Village in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.