Volleyball Association of Malawi (VAM) through the letter titled Hon. Jappie Mhango League Sponsorship dated 22nd March, 2019 addressed to all the three regional chairpersons and signed by General Secretary Jairos Nkhoma, announced the MK7.5 million sponsorship.
“Each Regional League will be sponsored with MK2,500,000.00 for both women and men teams in this order: MK1,000,000.00 for women and MK1,500,000.00 for men. This sponsorship will succour the teams to prepare intimately for the Zone VI club Championship which we are to host this year in December. We urge you to play the games in League form and you can also forward us the schedule for the League games”, reads part of the letter.
Since in March, 2019, there has been a lot of speculations with regards to the sponsorship especially that there was no any information from the Leagues. Volleyball teams and fans have been looking forward to it since the VAM letter was leaked to the public.
We therefore made a follow up to find out as to what led to the situation of having only Northern Region Volleyball League (NRVL) having played the games and received the sponsorship money. In November and early December as we were approaching the zone VI championship’s dates, we engaged the VAM General Secretary and all the three regional chairpersons.
“As much as our Leagues are seriously working hard to develop the sport and looking for sponsors, we feel on this one, they have not done well by utilizing the sponsorship at the right time and according to the sponsorship objectives. Each sponsorship has its own objective and we must always go by those goals for our benefit and the sponsor’s too. It is just a concern that the sponsorship did not go as per the plan due to the regions (except NRVL) not forwarding the programs for the sponsorship according to the sponsorship objectives,” Nkhoma said.
On his part, Central Region Volleyball League (CRVL) chairperson Robert White said they had planned to use the sponsorship for a tournament as opposed to a League basis as they had secured another sponsor for the League games and to be played before Zone Vi games as per its objective.
“On 21st November, 2019, White told us that they had requested for the funds at first but did not get a response. We made a follow up and we were told that we should produce a program as a basis for the release of the funds but will be done in tranches. Our last meeting last weekend did that and it will be submitted soon after the minutes are ready. We agreed on dates, but as indicated we want to hold tournament. We want the tournament before Zone VI games because the funds are for the Championship preparation’.
However, on 22nd December, 2019 in response to a question on a whatsapp group he (White) created named Greater Heights Platform about the anticipated CRVL Category B men tournament as per the 2019 Leagues calendar of event which was scheduled for this December, revealed that part of Hon. Jappie Mhango’s sponsorship was expected to finance the tournament.
“Category B tournament…this was planned with the promised MK2.5 million from VAM president. We have not concluded on this and its unlikely to take place this year”, he wrote.
On Christmas day, the CRVL Chaiperson also informed us that they are yet to receive the funds.
“We requested for the funds but we are not yet received them. We are yet to get a response from VAM General Secretary”, White reported.
CRVL on 23rd November this year signed a sponsorship deal worth MK6,500,000.00 (Six Million and Five Hundred Thousand Kwacha) with 23rd Century Systems Limited for 2019 Season. However, it is reported that they will sponsor with the same amount each year until 2021.
In response to White, VAM General Secretary had this to say, “the CRVL had plans to use the sponsorship on weekend tournament since they were in the transition of signing up with the new sponsor. However, it was first week of December, 2019 that they (CRVL) wrote us with their program wanting to play the games in that weekend (a week before Zone VI Games) but the sponsor was out of the country and arrived on Saturday, 7th December, 2019.”
On the other hand, the Southern Region Volleyball League (SRVL) Chairperson, Kelvin Zulu, said they are planning to have the games between January and February, 2019.
“We are intending to start the games between January and February, 2020. We had some Committee transitional challenges. As a new Committee we had faced with challenges that affected us to operate as expected and to do the games before Zone Vi Championship was not spared. We have had no handovers from the previous Committee and for us to hit the ground has been had. We wrote VAM on both issues and we still waiting from them for feedback. ' - Kelvinn Zulu, SRVL Chairperson.
The time VAM wrote the letter, SRVL had the former Committee led by Pacharo Ngwira. They had Elections for the new Committee on Sunday 14th July, 2019.
Commenting on Zulu’s statement, VAM General Secretary, Nkhoma said it was a mix of communication breakdown.
”As for SRVL,it was a mix of communication breakdown. The transition of Regional elections and because of limited time they wrote us. The letter from SRVL indicated that they will be ready to start the games for Hon. Jappie Mhango League from February, 2020.”
“Therefore, for now (as 2019 Zone VI games are gone), its up to the sponsor to give the way forward especially for CRVL and SRVL sponsorship. Being in festival holidays, we can only follow up after 6th January, 2020,” Nkhoma added.
Going up north, the League was played and as per the sponsors wish and as communicated by VAM. NRVL Chairperson, Kafumu Nkhoma said they are grateful for the sponsorship.
“We thank Hon. Jappie Mhango for the sponsoring us and we look forward for continued sponsorship. The games helped our teams to prepare for Zone Vi Championship”, Nkhoma appreciated.
“Part of the funds we bought eighteen Mikasa V330W balls and given to each team that registered on top of trophies and money. The League finished on Saturday, 30th November, 2019 after playing in the Districts in our two pools.” Nkhoma (Kafumu) narrated.
It is reported that NRVL received the money in two phases with initial MK700,000.00 and the remainder MK1,800,000.00 a week before the final games.