By Duncan Mlanjira
Hockey Association of Malawi (Ham) applauds the sponsorship it gets from First Merchant Bank (FMB) for its Southern Region league, saying it has had a big impact on the development of the sport in the country.
Ham acting general secretary Chigomezgo Thindwa said FMB has given hockey great exposure and something valuable for the clubs to fight for.
“FMB has brought in excitement and competitiveness in the games,” Thindwa said. “Beyond just sponsoring the league, FMB has assisted hockey in supporting the participation of their league champions, Genetrix, in the ACCC tournament in Bulawayo and sponsoring air ticket for a coach in a coaching camp in the Netherlands.
“The fruits can be seen in FMB’s willingness to extend the sponsorship to Lilongwe so as to develop hockey nationwide. Ham plans to forge ahead with this for the 2016 season as well as delve into youth development through school leagues,” said Thindwa, who learnt the sport whilst at Kamuzu Academy.
The 2016 hockey season will officially roll out in May and FMB will be sponsoring the hockey for the fourth year running this season.
The current champions are Genetrix (both men and women) and they are also the club who have won the league most since its inception.
Genetrix were FMB 11s League champions for both men and women for 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons. They have equally dominated the FMB 6s leagues since 2013, mostly as champions and on occasions as runners-up or third place.
Thindwa said FMB also helped in the development of the game for ladies.
“One initiative that FMB insisted on as the sponsors was that there should be no disparity in the prize monies for men’s and women’s leagues which Ham implemented from the 2014 season,” Thindwa said.
“This has uplifted the ladies game in a noticeable way. The competitiveness is more intense and the ladies are developing their skills with a great focus than before.
“This year, Ham has a special focus on developing the ladies game and will be conducting coaching and umpiring courses specifically for the ladies before the 2016 season kick off. We anticipate a very exciting ladies’ league this year,” he said.
He also said there are currently five ladies club teams but there are over 11 across the country “if we count in the University of Malawi and Malawi Defence Force teams”.