The 2016 First Merchant Bank (FMB) Hockey Leagues get underway this weekend, after the launching ceremony on Saturday morning at Country Club Limbe.
The league games will be played at the hockey stadium at Chichiri starting from Sunday.
This year, the FMB leagues will consist of the 8-a-side league which kicks off Sunday and should run up to the end of June.
Hockey Association of Malawi (Ham) acting general secretary Chigomezgo Thindwa said they will hold an international club tournament mid July where they have invited Lusaka Sharks to participate with their counterparts scheduled for Blantyre from July 16-17.
“After that we shall have the main league, the FMB 11-a-side starting in August and ending in October,” Thindwa said.
He also said Ham is making strides to revive youth hockey and schools hockey, and it’s bearing fruits.
“We just had the Monolux Youth Leagues which ended in June 3rd. This had participation from several schools within Blantyre in the Under-10, under-14 and Under-17 categories.
“We also partnered with Central High School for a secondary schools tournament that took place on June 4 at Central High. Both of these will return in the new term when schools reopen — that’s September and October.
“Additionally, in the build up to the season, Ham conducted coaching courses as well as umpires and judges courses for beginners to beef up the technical side of the game. There is greater emphasis on discipline and professionalism this season, the board wants to elevate the standard of the game,” Thindwa said.
Thindwa said Ham applauds the sponsorship it gets from FMB for its Southern Region league, saying it has had a big impact on the development of the sport in the country.
He 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. 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.
Another focus area is Ham’s stadium project project at Chichiri, what is known as Kamuzu Upper Stadium.
“Government, through Sports Council, has been pushing associations to become more business minded as subventions are unstastainable in the long term,” Thindwa said. “We just had a meeting with the Sports Council Board which was a good experience in that it reminded us of the need to really take a more business oriented approach to the stadium project.
“This is not only in its completion but looking ahead to how it will be maintained long term and bring maximum benefit to the country in terms of hockey development.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :