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FAM ex-co approves women’s national league. By Garry Chirwa

Image taken from The Nation

FAM executive committee (ex-co) has fast-tracked the introduction of the eagerly-awaited National Women’s Football League.

The approval was made during a recent meeting held in Mangochi and the domestic women’s top-flight is set to roll out this season once the logistics have been finalised.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda confirmed the development, saying they are now working on the logistics.

“In fact, we were supposed to start engaging stakeholders this coming weekend had it not been to the shutdown due to Covid-19 cases. We need to discuss if we have the capacity to operate a national league and we have developed a model,” he said.

“Of course, the critical areas will be the approach and the possible support system, knowing well about the sponsorship challenges, which women football teams face.”

On her part, National Women Football Association chairperson Suzgo Ngwira said considering the plan they presented to FAM ex-co, they believe they are ready to roll out the national league.

“Every journey starts with the first step. Challenges will always be there, but we can find solutions as we go,” she said.

Ngwira said the plans are to start with eight top teams, three each from Centre and South and two from the North.

She said their biggest concern is that there is no serious competition in the regions as the same teams have dominated for years.

“With such a situation, the top teams tend to relax and do not put an extra effort unless they are facing fellow big teams.”

In the 10-team South league, Blantyre Zero and Ntopwa Super Queens remain the top two outfits while DD Sunshine and Skippers FC enjoy the same status in the Centre. The Northern Region has Moyale Sisters and Topik Queens as dominant sides.

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the competition will be structured in a way that would consider the plight of women football clubs, most of whom do not have sound sponsorship.

“We will be sensitive on the plight of women football clubs because they are not sponsored by any corporate company. It is really tough when you consider that even some Super League clubs are struggling,” he said.

Skippers’ owner Charles Mwenda and his Topik counterpart Levi Mhone said the national league will be ideal for women football development since there is a big gap between established and upcoming teams.

“Once the so-called big teams beat up-and-coming outfits, they feel relaxed and believe they are on top of their game, not knowing they are not making any significant progress,” said Mwenda.

“But with this proposed national league, there will be good competition at both national and regional levels as teams of at least equal strength will be facing each other.”

Mhone said: “The national league will also motivate our players and provide a standard platform for selecting national team players as is the case with the men’s TNM Super League.”

China-based national team captain Tabitha Chawinga has since welcomed the move, saying it will enhance competition and provide a better platform for national team squad selection.

“This is a welcome development and the way to go to take women’s football to greater heights. A national league has always been our expectation and I am happy that finally it is coming into fruition,” she said.