In the capital city, Lilongwe, a football academy was born in 2014 called Chigoli, which has made huge strides to nurture the country’s brightest football talents and three of its products performed superbly at the just ended COSAFA Under-17 tournament held in Mauritius.
The three, Francis Mtoso, Emmanuel Mitole and Lovemore Mbeta, were Chigoli’s first players to be selected for national team duty and they did not disappoint as they scored in their debut tournament.
In the first game against Angola, which they lost 0-1, saw Francis and Lovemore start with Emmanuel on the bench but In the second game against Zimbabwe, Malawi started all three Chigoli players whilst naming Francis as captain.
Reports say Malawi performed well with the Chigoli players’ contribution to the 5-0 huge win in which both Francis and Emmanuel scored. Emmanuel and Lovemore created an assist each. Francis led the back line to a clean sheet.
“The players flew for the first time (a special moment for anyone) and experienced life in another country and climate,” says a report on their website.
“Malawi then needed to beat Swaziland by two or more goals to go through but sadly, they could only manage a 1-0 victory and bowed out on goal difference.
“The Chigoli contribution was again highly visible with Francis again in as captain. All three players from the Academy starting and Lovemore getting the only goal of the game.
” Our players shone in among other talented players from Malawi in Mauritius as the Chigoli players scored 50% of all Malawi goals at COSAFA U17 (3).
“Two of the other three goals were made by Chigoli players and when all three players started Malawi didn’t concede and won both games with Chigoli players accounting for 27% of the starting line up.
At COSAFA, Chigoli players had a direct impact (goals or assist) in 83% of the goals scored by Malawi,” the website reports.
Operating at Bishop Mackenzie International High School, Chigoli is a blossoming football development academy, which is nurturing young talent as well imparting academic education on the players, focusing on English and Maths which are taught by qualified teachers from Europe.
They also undergo character development sessions which are led by an experienced youth development specialist which ensure that all the players become well rounded individuals who are positive members of society.
This football academy strives to produce excellent talent moulded into what Surestream Academy strove to do but unfortunately Surestream, which was based at former MDC United Stadium at Chilomoni in Blantyre, had to pull out from the game.
Last year, Chigoli Academy hosted a group of 19 students from San Francisco, USA as part of its programme towards a global partnership with similar football academies.
Some of the American students who were part of the group marveled at the experience they had here in Malawi, saying the trip was an eye opener and it left a lasting impression on them.
In its newsletter, Chigoli said the group had an amazing time in Malawi their interaction with their Malawian counterparts through training, matches, teaching and character development, as well as their tourist travels in this “stunningly beautiful country”.
One student Kayva said he was touched by the people he talked to and their attitudes towards life.
“Malawi is an incredible country and the people inspired me,” Kayva said on the newsletter. “It is interesting to see how content the locals are with the life they live even though they live in a very poor country.
“I see so much anger in America towards others about money and power, but [in Malawi], they are so friendly and appreciate their community.
I loved talking to the Chigoli players about their futures and goals, and was glad to see that some had the same as me,” Kavya said.
His colleague Evan thanked the organisers for making the trip possible.
“It was an eye opening experience. Being in such a humble and respectful country and playing soccer there will leave a lasting impression on who I am, who I will be, and who I want to be for the rest of my life,” Evan said.