Surestream Petroleum has shut down its football academy after four years of operation.
In a press release issued on Monday, the academy’s managing director Keith Robinson said the institution has been closed because the company is no longer the operator of the licence for any oil exploration blocks in Malawi.
“And this, coupled with the ever decreasing price of oil in the world markets, has led the company to the unavoidable decision to close the academy.
“It is with no small measure of regret that Surestream Petroleum has decided to close the Surestream Football Academy after years of operation,” reads part of the statement
The company has since thanked its partners, in particular the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), for their unwavering support over the lifetime of the academy and the Ministry of Sports and Culture.
“As part of our legacy to Malawi football we will return the former MDC Stadium to FAM in superb condition. It is now unarguably one of the best small stadiums in Malawi, Surestream having invested well in excess of $250 000 [about K191 million] in its restoration and upkeep.
“The company feels honoured to have been the custodians of the facility for so long. We sincerely hope it will be maintained in its current condition to the exclusive benefit of Malawi football.”
The institution was the only viable soccer academy and was the breeding ground for emerging talent and some of its graduates have already been absorbed into mainstream football.
Within the past two years, three of the academy’s products—goalkeeper Brighton Munthali, midfielders Ernest Tambe and Levison Maganizo—earned national team appearances while others such as Isaac Mwale, Trevor Kalema and Mark Fodya were part of the ambitious Under-20 national team which qualified for the final round of the 2015 CAF Youth Championship qualifiers.
“It is a sad development for Malawi football. Surestream Academy has helped improve talent of youngsters and I was groomed into what I am by the academy,” said Tambe, who is now with Be Forward Wanderers.
On his part, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu described it as a big blow, saying it is a lost opportunity for Malawi football in the quest to produce world-class players.
“Their involvement in football had other business strings attached, unfortunately it is something that is beyond us.
“The academy was the short cut for us to groom players of world-class standards. We had already seen the fruits and in five to 10 years’ time we could have been somewhere,” he said.