Minister, State House differ on sports restart

Ministry of Sports

Ministry of Youth and Sports and the State House have produced different versions of the return of sporting activities in the country.

Government suspended sporting activities including games and trainings in March this year due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There have been calls for the return of sporting activities from different quarters since schools re-opened last week and  political activities in some constituencies hosting by-elections with no strict measures like social distancing and washing hands followed.

For sometime now, the Minister of Youth and Sports has been promising that it is making progress engaging the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19 for a nod to sports resumption, but as Malawians wait eagerly, varying statements appear.

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Last week, Minister of Youth and Sports, Ulemu Msungama told the local media that they were finalising some modalities and that they were to announce dates for sports return by Friday.

Through the interviews, Msungama offered hope that teams may be hitting the ground as soon as “maybe next week”.

However, Co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce, Dr John Phuka addressing the media last Friday could not commit to the actual day for the sports resumption.

Phuka said they acknowledge the country’s commitment to international sports, and that they were looking into the measures to allow Malawi participate in such activities.

Perhaps the taskforce only has in mind the national teams’ engagements especially the Flames who are supposed to play Burkina Faso back-to-back in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in November, while fans are more concerned with local games.

Executive Assistant to President Lazarus Chakwera, Sean Kampondeni in a weekly briefing on Monday said there would be no specific date for the return of the sporting activities since they will be accessed in phases.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) developed a roadmap for the return of the game and over the weekend the association met with some stakeholders including the Ministry and security personnel.

Renowned football analyst, Higger Mkandawire said the dilly-dallying by the authorities is triggering the impatience by the football fans.

“If the authorities were honest then sports could have returned long ago. Other activities are taking place normally but it is only sports being sidelined,” he was quoted in one of the local papers.

Some teams plying their trade in the TNM Super League have felt the pinch of the suspension of games as they have been unable to sustain their players.

FAM introduced the Relief package where the players and some officials receive food packs and monthly stipends.