Nkhotakota, August 18, 2014, Mana: Prominent soccer players Essau Kanyenda and Trust Lunda, who rose to the international scene, have roots in this district.
Apart from making headlines with large number of cases of being found in possession of Indian hemp and hosting considerable number of people with mental illnesses, Nkhotakota is well-known for its soccer madness which is conspicuous even in remote areas.
To residents of Nkhotakota, soccer is one of their essential routine undertakings. They dream of soccer and it is one of the major issues which etch in their minds at the crack of dawn.
Chigumula Community Ground at Nkhotakota boma used to be a marvel with its magnetic ability of attracting people from all walks of the world to watch absorbing football involving teams in the district and visiting teams participating in Chipiku Premier League.
The ground was not discriminating against any demographic group of people as they all thronged the ground to watch the matches in the entertainment deprived district whose community hall, juxtaposed with the ground, lies in dilapidated state.
However, all that is slowly but terrifyingly becoming history. Some soccer fanatics who come from distant places to watch the matches are ending up in getting raw deal. They wait in vain thereby sanctioning the question: ‚Äėwhat has gone wrong with this soccer mad district?‚Äô
‚ÄúNkhotakota inathadi eti!‚ÄĚ said a frustrated soccer fan who went to the ground over the weekend in anticipation of watching a football match. He went home without being cured from his desire of watching football match.
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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†A Soccer Official presents the cup and prize money to the winning team
¬†‚ÄúI used to spare all my time and use my bicycle to come here to the ground from Mpamantha, about 12km, to watch football. However, things have completely changed nowadays. For instance, the past four weeks have elapsed without watching any match,‚ÄĚ added Peter Wasili.
Breadth of opinions of soccer fans settles on that the disbandment of Eleven Spanners which was participating in Division I and the relegation of Nkhotakota United from Chipiku Premier League in 2013 dealt a heavy blow to the district. The situation left unhealed soaring enthusiasm for watching soccer of local flavour.¬†
Alinafe United joined Premier League two years ago only to give up participation due to lack of sponsorship, leaving only Dwangwa United in the league.
District Sports Officer Blessings Marley says people in the district especially in rural areas still love the sport but business community is not interested in sponsoring competitions for development of the sport at grassroot level.
‚ÄúSome people are just good at criticizing but are not interested in administration of the sport to rectify or mitigate the challenges like inadequate funding.
‚ÄúWe are planning to develop proposals to reach various stakeholders so that they should consider funding a league because it runs for quite substantial period thereby helping the youths who resort to doing immoral behaviour in the absence of such sporting activities,‚ÄĚ says Marley.
Amisi Lumanza who is a driver at Nkhotakota District Education Office however has assisted in sustaining momentum and easing people‚Äôs desire of watching matches by establishing Chipala Football League to cater for those aged between 15 and 25.
Close to Lake Malawi, people are now flocking to Chipala ground which is about 3km from Chigumula ground to watch Chipala League matches.
‚ÄúI came across two teams of kids aged between 11 and 15 clearing the ground to compete after each team promised to contribute K50. I urged them to work hard in clearing the ground and I would organise a competition of K10,000,‚ÄĚ says Lumanza.
Lumanza says he together with the 16 kids cleared the ground and gave forms to the teams to write their names, sign and return the forms.
‚ÄúIt turned out that those aged between 15 and 25 were interested in the competition. After telling them that it will be a league of K10, 000, they told me that it should be a league of those aged between 15 and 25.
‚ÄúThey promised that each of 14 teams will contribute K1,000, totaling to K24,000.00 after inclusion of my K10,000,‚ÄĚ he says.
He further says he reasoned with the young ones before the 14 teams filled the forms.
‚ÄúA draw was conducted, paving way for the kicking off of the league whose matches are played each day since 23 July and it is expected to conclude on 30 August,‚ÄĚ he says.
Nkhotakota Central legislator Peter Mazizi learnt of the initiative and approached the sponsor and gave him K100,000 to top up on the K24,000.
Lumanza says when the news was brought to the attention of the teams, they were greatly excited.
‚ÄúThe league is running well with a committee of six members, three referees and me. Blackberry are currently topping the league.¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
‚ÄúThe winner is expected to get K40,000, the runners-up will pocket K30,000, and the third place team will get K20,000 because the money is for the benefit of the teams.
The other amount will go towards three referees, committee members and stationery,‚ÄĚ he says.
Lumanza says the whole essence of the league is to develop the sport at grassroot level and feed teams like Dwangwa United with budding quality players.
‚ÄúThe participants are school-going children and some school drop-outs who are pre-occupied with fishing. We will have a break during rainy season to allow them to be involved in farming and to allow the owner of the land where we made the ground to grow rice on his piece of land,‚ÄĚ says Lumanza.
He bemoans that the football standards at the boma have gone down because of lack of competitions and declining passion for soccer among some youths who value beer and immoral behaviour.
‚ÄúMany people watch the matches because people in this district love soccer. We urge various people to be organizing football competitions to develop the sport. At the same time, the youths should have passion for the sport to excel to greater heights,‚ÄĚ he says.
The district sports officer says through consultations with various stakeholders, it has come to light that it is easy to organize football competition involving secondary schools only because it is not very costly.
He highlights that from his experience in running Presidential Cup some rural communities are very violent and he recommends that whenever organizing football competitions for such target areas, teams should not be paying affiliation fees.
‚ÄúWhenever they note that they cannot progress, they deliberately cause commotion during matches and when they are judged that they were at fault they rush in demanding to be given their affiliation fees yet they are aware that it is nonrefundable,‚ÄĚ says Marley.
Marley highlights that having already trained sports administrators, his office would like to organise training for referees.
‚ÄúAfter the trainings, we will have to woo business community to come in and assist with sponsorship of competitions with a focus on the central and southern part of the district.
‚ÄúDwangwa is being served with corporate social responsibility activities from the sugar industry in the northern part of the district. Soccer fans also enjoy matches at Chitowe Stadium which is used as home ground for Mafco FC and Airborne Rangers,‚ÄĚ he says.
Chitowe Stadium is the home ground for Dwangwa United which has produced the likes of Wisdom Ndhlovu, Chikumbutso Kanyenda, Trust Lunda, Washington Malata and Esau ‚Äėblack mamba‚Äô Kanyenda.
Nkhotakota, August 18, 2014, Mana: Prominent soccer players Essau Kanyenda and Trust Lunda, who rose to the international scene, have roots in this district. Apart from making headlines with large number of cases of being found in possession of Indian hemp and hosting considerable number of people ...