At the prize presentation ceremony last week to mark the official end to the TNM 2015 Super League season, the sponsors’ Chief Commercial Officer Dan Makata emphatically said time has come for the players to enjoy their toil — I say it’s been long overdue.
Last year’s theme was ‘Our Players Our Heroes Our Pride’ as one way of making sure that the players are their first and foremost beneficiaries of the great sponsorship that TNM has been offering since way back in 2008.
But from what is on the ground, and the sponsors TNM have realised, the players continue to suffer if silence and many become pauper when they retire due to old age and most times due to injuries that forces them to make their bow from the football stage.
Makata said football is what is supposed to bring food to the players’ table “and it is uncalled for hearing stories that instead of players benefitting from the game it is actually officials who smile all the way to the bank”.
That’s the sad reality part of our football. It is not setup in such a way that there little or no room at all for checks and balances to ensure that there is accountability.
Makata said as sponsors they will make sure to continue in the fight for the welfare of the players up until when everyone shall realise that it does not hold to rob the players of their earnings, “be it from gate takings or from Sapota Mapeto earnings”.
I wish the football authorities — Fam, Sulom, Sports Council and the Ministry of Sports take heed of Makata’s plea. There have been just too many rhetoric speeches made year in and year out about taking drastic measures to annihilate fraud in football. It’s time to seriously take the right measures to make football more glamorous like it used to be.
Many calls have been made to stop violence but to no avail. In fact it’s the club officials who start it all. Last season, Sulom heavily punished teams for the actions of their players and supporters but at the next game, more violence would erupt.
It’s really sad and appalling that the life of a young and promising young man, Geoffrey Mwale lost his life when he was beaten by alleged Malawi Defence Force soldiers after violence erupted during the match between Red Lions and Wizards (formerly Surestream). Yet the young man had nothing to do with what had happened at the Kamuzu Stadium—he was beaten as he waited to board a minibus at Chichiri Shopping Mall.
Soldiers are supposed to be extremely disciplined but that has not been the case over the past few years. They want to be physically aggressive in order to intimidate their opponents on the field as well as outside of it.
When violence broke out at Kamuzu Stadium involving their team Red Lions, the soldiers stationed at the campsite close by were called to protect their players but instead they took the law in their own hands by beating anybody they met on the way — whether they were guilty or not.
In the last season, MDF side Kamuzu Barracks were the worst disciplinary lot on the pitch having been given 8 red cards and 40 yellow cards with their player Dave Banda being red carded four times. Also with four red cards was another MDF side Mafco’s Richard Mbulu, whose team amassed four red cards and 35 yellows.
Red Lions also ended with 39 cards — two red and 37 yellows, Mzuni with 41 (one red and 40 yellow).
That’s not the sportsmanship spirit being advocated the whole world over. Why should we be different? While TNM has assured its continued support of our flagship league, we should not take it for granted that it could stay that way should violence continue in which innocent bystanders suffer the most like the case of the Mwale family.
We must keep ourselves in check at all times by making sure we act professional both in being accountable for every tambala but as well as keep football violence-free so that people can bring their whole families and enjoy the sport their love.