FAM president Nyamilandu presenting the certificate of recognition to Lule
* He is Flames’ fourth most capped player with 132 caps and joint second all time top scorer with 27 goals
* The three deserved the recognition for their service to the development of Malawi football— Nyamilandu
By Duncan Mlanjira
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) on Saturday honoured former international, legendary Lawrence ‘Lule’ Waya for his service to Malawi football.
FAM also its technical director John Kaputa and referees development officer, Maxwell Mtonga, who are retiring on Wednesday, June 30.
According to fam.mw, Lule, who is Malawi’s fourth most capped player with 132 caps and joint second all time top scorer with 27 goals, got a Certificate of Excellence and a K500,000 cash incentive during the association’s annual general meeting at the Sunbird Livingstonia in Salima.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the three deserved the recognition for their service to the development of Malawi football.
“They have sacrificed a lot for the good of the game,” he is quoted as saying. “Kaputa and Mtonga were loyal servants of the game and FAM. They deserved a ceremonial farewell.
“Kaputa has played a big role in laying youth football development and coaching structures. Mtonga has groomed a lot of top referees in the country. We will continue to use them in our projects.
“For Lawrence, he is a legend. To me he is the best player the country has ever produced and we thought of recognising him as he is still alive,” Nyamilandu said.
Waya told fam.mw that he feels honoured to be recognised while he is still alive.
”I would like to thank FAM for the gesture. It feels good to be here and witness this while I am alive and I would like to urge FAM to do the same to more legends out there,” said Waya who played for the Flames between 1982 and 1996.
In an earlier interview, the former Nyasa Big Bullets international star said the most memorable highlights of his career was winning the bronze medal at All African Games in Kenya against Cameroon in 1987 as well as winning the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup against Zambia in Malawi in 1988.
In the match against Cameroon in Kenya Lule scored two goals in the 3-1 win while Flames also beat Zambia 3-1 in 1988 for the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup.
Lule’s football career started when he was just 15 after playing for Kanjedza Primary School in the Mayors trophy against Limbe Primary School, St Kizito Primary School, Mpingwe Primary School.
“Then Zingwangwa Primary School beat us in the final match but I was selected to represent the Southern Region schools football team and later on the Malawi national schools team,” he had said.
Then former senior national team coach Ted Powell drafted in the striker when he was an 18-year-old. Powell was being assisted by Henry Moyo, Zorro Msiska and Alex Masanjala.
He said first match for the Flames was against Mozambique of which I entered as a substitute in the last 15 minutes of the game at Lilongwe Cmmunity Centre in Lilongwe. The game ended 0–0.
“I played alongside Kinna Phiri, Michael Kaimfa, Harry Waya, Young Chimodzi, Jack Chamangwana, Tom Kazembe, Stock Dandize, Jonathan Billie, Denis Saidi just to mention a few.”
Later, Lule was spotted by Al Jazira Football Club, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) side and a deal was secured.
“I went to play for them in the middle of the season and played 9 league games. I had a knee injury of which I was sent to Netherlands for surgery of which went well.
“I stayed for a month as the league had ended just working in the Gym and later came back on holiday and was not allowed to go back due to the fact that I did not come to play for the national team during the time I was with Al Jazira.
“After that, we went and played in the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup in Kenya in 1989 where I was spotted by Olympiakos of Turkey but the deal didn’t go through as I heard they were trying to contact me but they could not reach me.
“In 1993, I went to South Africa and played for Dynamos for one month of which I played 9 league games as trials and at the end of the league and I never went back due to some administrative reasons.”
After an illustrious career with Bullets, Lule joined Silver Striker after his job demanded he be relocated Liliongwe and was tired of travelling to Blantyre to play games for Bullets which in turn was costly for the team.
“I enjoyed playing for Silver but it was difficult when playing Bullets as it was the team I used to play for. But I always did my best to play well.
He finally retired in 1997 and the former maestro, who at one time worked at FAM where he parted ways in unsavoury fashion, was in the recent past engaged by football governing to sharpen skills of the Flames strikers.
In an another interview, Lule had said he fondly reminisces ‘Bata Mkumadzulo’ spirit and wished the players and supporters could emulate it for this generation’s People’s Team.
‘Bata Mkumadzulo’ was when Big Bullets, then trending as Bata Bullets, were down by a goal or heading for a draw with the minutes ticking away, the Bullets fans did not give up but anticipated to carry the day despite all odds.
The ‘Bata Mkumadzulo’ spirit was the dangerous moment for the team’s opponents because the supporters will always rise up in unison whenever Bullets were on the onslaught — throwing everything into the game with verve no other team commanded.
“The fond memories I have playing for Bata Bullets were when we were called ‘Bata Mkumadzulo’. I played a lot of games of which we won matches in the dying minutes,” he had said.
“And winning the league several times and cups of which I was also the scorer will always be treasured. I still hold such memories so dear to my life.
Lule had said whenever he has an opportunity, he does take time to watch the current Big Bullets games, saying: “The team is still as great although I still feel there is still room to do greater. At the meantime they are a lot of formidable teams than before as they could be four or five teams, of which shows there is a lot of competition.
“Bullets’ style of play cannot be compared to ours. In our time, the standard of play was different, many players of today would have been in Division One or Two.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is how I feel. We have good players who can make our standard but if you can see the players of yesterday, even a substitute was very good.”
On his comments to inspire the current crop of players and the younger generation of the supporters, Lule says the player is supposed to have confidence, respect for the team colours he is wearing and not getting satisfied with their performance.
“Strive to do even better than the previous game. That’s what makes you to improve. Learn new tricks everyday from friends and other players in other leagues in Europe and everywhere — that’s self coaching.
“To the supporters, they need to live up to their name — supporters — to help the team in every way, morally and financially for them to get the required results.”
Legendary players that Lule played along with in Bullets include Kinnah Phiri, his brothers Harry and George Waya, Tommy Mkandawire, Mosted Sichinga, Dennis Saidi, Topsy Msuku, Damiano Malefula, Greyson Simika, Harvey Deleza, Peter Phiri, Adrian Phiri, John Nkata, Michael Kaimfa, Rogers Yasin, Peterkins Kayira, Maloya Siliya, Popote Chang’ono, Dino Robello, Ian Banda, Andrew Manda.
Others are George Banda, Richard Meja, Richard Mamberera, Mavuto Lungu, Chancy Gondwe, Patrick Mabedi, Gilbert Chirwa, Mphatso Namwali, Laurent Kamanga, Aaro Mazhopa, Acton Munthali, James Mandambwe, Levi Hara, Nelson George, Gibson Mpherembe, Mzee Josamu, Brian Maulidi, Chibisa Munthali, Mike Limpunga, Michael Mkuntha, Thom Kazembe, Mike Gladstone, Harry Kumwenda among many others.
Born on 25th May, 1963, Lule hails from Mphonde Village, Phalombe District and from the 132 caps for the Flames, 7 were FIFA World Cup qualifiers and was part of the squad that qualified for their first appearance of the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations.