By Duncan Mlanjira
The Chiwembe Stadium upgrade at Football Association of Malawi’s Mpira Village is expected to be completed as planned by end of February of early March
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda said the materials for the bleachers and the seats which were procured in China have since arrived in the country and are being offloaded on site.
“The production and the shipping of these key materials have been the main determining factor for the winding up of the projection and we are happy they are in and we can now be clear on the finishing if the project.
“The stadium is envisaged to have a capacity of 10,000 fans. This capacity and the quality of the facility will surely attract good matches to the venue with a different feel of arena experience for the spectators.
“International matches for junior national teams and women will also benefit from use of this facility.”
Gunda reported that FAM got an approval from FIFA to upgrade the Chiwembe Ground into a fully-fledged stadium under the new FIFA Forward Project.
“The FIFA Forward Program is FIFA’s initiative to invest the proceeds of the game into strategic tailor made development programs. What FIFA has done is to make available resources and challenge member associations to identify areas requiring support in the growth of the game and develop projects and programs against the available funds.
“The funds are distributed in four-year cycles and each association enters into an agreement with FIFA and signs a Contract of Agreed Objective which provides the guide in the implementation of set out plans for the cycle.
“The new cycle began on 1st Jan 2019 and will run to December 2022. FAM is currently reviewing the previous cycle and planning on the new cycle since FIFA recently reviewed regulations of the program from the previous cycle after getting feedback on his members faired in the cycle.”
He said the Fifa Forward Project was introduced by the world football governing body’s president Gianni Infantino, replacing Sepp Blatter’s Goal Project, which helped built the Mpira Village.
“The main difference between Forward and Goal is that unlike Goal where projects were prescribe, Forward gives respective member associations the liberty to evaluate needs and develop objectives for implementation of tailor made projects that address respective needs.”
In the recent FAM Activity Report which was presented to delegates and adopted at the December AGM in Mangochi, Gunda says while the year under review from July 2017 to June 2018 was undoubtedly tough in terms of the Malawi football teams’ performance and results on the field of play, they can also be proud of the progress that they have made in delivering some of the programs which include the upgrading of the Chiwembe Stadium.
Other strides are establishment of the FIFA Under-15 Regional Leagues which FIFA supported for the second year running following the success of initial pilot project; the FIFA Financial Governance Workshop; grassroots programs for both girls and boys and other CAF and local training in coaching, refereeing, administration and sports medicine.
“At FAM, we believe that the standard of club football needs to progress through improving the standard of the game in lower leagues and investing in youth development programmes, both of which act as nurseries and feeder to the system.
“This is why, in the FIFA Forward Programme implementation, we have highlighted the development and promotion of youth football in a sustainable way through the Contract of Agreed Objectives signed between FIFA and FAM for the 2016–2018 cycle.
“In our continued quest to realize more income from the game, FAM continues to commercialize its facilities, products and services. The commercialization drive has become a beacon of hope for maximizing revenue for FAM to achieve its mission to develop and promote the game of football in the country.
“That aside, the financial health of the association is strong as indicated in the audited accounts. In the period under review, FAM consolidated its partnerships with existing sponsors for competitions for the elite clubs which is the heartbeat of the game and several innovations and incentives to the stakeholders in the respective competitions added glamour to the game,” Gunda said.