Good work in keeping up Bingu’s vision through Presidential Cup

The Presidential Initiative on Sports was a brain child of Malawi’s former Head of State, late President Bingu wa Mutharika in a bid to improve the standards of sports in the country.

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The budget for it was across the board and, of course, football took a big chunk of it and each sport took the name of Presidential Cup.

As is the case, football takes centre stage in most of the media coverage with netball as second and the others following behind. The other sports disciplines righty use their presidential cups to expose youngsters because the rewards are not as appealing as it is in football.

However, the prize money is not as mouth-watering as it is supposed to be considering this is from the government purse as it used to be for the defunct Kamuzu Cup, which was always pegged at the highest tag.

But the whole essence was to expose talent from the grassroots and the winners from the district and the regional levels were to rub shoulders with the elite for the national trophy.

In football, though some unknown teams have gone on to make some upsets at their level, they always are easily taken off the scene by the giants of the TNM Super League, Malawi’s top flight football arena.

Since its inception in 2008, Mighty Wanderers have won it twice — the inaugural final in 2009 and in 2011 while their arch rivals also achieved it twice in 2012 and on Saturday when they beat Moyale Barracks.

Civo United clinched it in 2010 while Mafco did it in 2013. The football tournament failed to take place in 2014 and 2015 but it took off in earnest this year in order to replace the Standard Bank Knock out Cup, which was abruptly withdrawn by the sponsors.

This prompted Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to consider reviving the Presidential Cup to keep the football calendar busy after been disturbed by Standard Bank’s decision to pull out without prior warning.

Well done to Fam for reviving the Presidential Cup which must have forced the powers that be to honour the pledge in order to keep Bingu’s vision alive.

Late Bingu, may his soul rest in peace, had good thoughts for the country’s sports and thus decided to roll out the Presidential Initiative on Sports. Many young talent has been exposed through these tournaments across the board though the media just highlight those from football.

In the same period when the Presidential Initiative on Sports was launched, the Malawi national netball team were at their peak and when they came back from a world tournament where they mesmerised the netball world, late Bingu made a serious pledge — to build a state-of-the-art netball arena like the one in which the Queens excel.

But up to now, not a single structure — even the land for it — have we seen that resembles any initiative that is towards making Bingu’s dream come alive through netball. We have the national stadium built with funding from China, which is in its final completion stages and will be named after the former president, but that’s most to be enjoyed by football than any other sports disciplines.

Where are we in providing netball with the state-of-the-art arena that Bingu pledged? Are we telling the nation that it was just a pledge from one individual? Did Bingu make that pledge as a president or an individual?

We need that clarification. If it was a presidential pledge, then it can be fulfilled by any president by the sitting President Arthur Peter Mutharika, not because that was his brother’s pledge but as a head of state.

If that was just a pledge from Bingu as an individual, then APM has the duty to honour it in memory of his late brother. But from what I saw it back then, Bingu made it as a head of state — that it was the government that was going to avail the facility to netball to honour the sport for putting Malawi on the map.

No sport has put Malawi on the world map as the Queens have done. Everywhere they go they exude so much glamour that even exceeds that of the world netball giants such as New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica and England because of their style of play.

Mwawi Kumwenda is our ambassador in sports and she won the woman athlete of the year award. What more can we ask but to give netball what Bingu had promised that the government would provide?

That’s food for thought for APM and his government — it’s time to give netball what it deserves — a state-of-the-art netball arena just like what they play in when they play against the world netball giants.

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