Malawi national team and Be Forward Wanderers gifted midfielder Yamikani Chester who has clinched an outright three-year deal with Czech third-tier league side MFK Vyškoe but loaned out to a United States outfit North Carolina FC which plays in the second-tier USL Championshi, on Tuesday left Malawi for US to kickstart his professional international career.
Chester lefts through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe and met up with Malawi netball export to Australia, Mwawi Kumwenda on departure.
The 24 –year-old Chester, who was named 2018 TNM Super League Player of the Season, said he is excited to leave for US a day after his Visa was granted, as the move could be a stepping stone to greater heights.
“It is every player’s dream to play overseas and I am set to give it all,” he said before boarding the plane.
Meanwhile, Nyasa Times caught up with Malawian James Woods-Nkhutabasa and Cameroonian Kingsley Pungong to discuss their first step in Malawian football with the recent acquisition and transfer of Chester done under Rainbow Sports Investment.
The USL Championship is the second highest professional soccer league in the United States of America, sitting a league below the top tier Major League Soccer.
USL is one of the most successful professional soccer leagues in the world, reaching a population of more than 84 million and fuelling the growth of the game across North America. The Championship includes a membership of more than 30 clubs across the United States and Canada.
Pungong, who is the Founder and CEO of Rainbow Sports Investment (RSI), a sports agency that scouts, signs and manages football players’ careers – has had a long interest in developing African football and taking players to the elite leagues across the world.
Woods-Nkhutabasa and Pungong have been friends for a number of years and it is that brought their attention to the Malawi football scene.
“Malawi has excellent football and sporting talent but we are well aware of the challenges football faces at both grassroots and professional level in the country – this being financial and lack of exposure.
“Our aim is to identify at-least 10 football players this year alone and take them to Europe, America, China and the Middle East – into good clubs to develop the players and hopefully see Malawian players playing at the highest level,” said Woods-Nkhutabasa.
He further added: “Pungong has an excellent eye for spotting talent and thus Yamikani Chester was a no brainer. Chester has the talent and mentality to succeed. The deal required us to act fast and professionally. We thank the Be Forward Wanderers management for their professionalism and handling of the move. This is just the beginning of our relationship with Be Forward Wanderers.”
Pungong added that his aim is to have Malawian players in the top teams and by doing so will transform the lives of the players, their families and their nation. It will definitely make the National team competitive with more players in top professional leagues.
He added: “Malawi has produced players of immense quality over the year’s such as Yasin Osman, Kinnah Phiri, Jack Chamangwana, Albert Mpinganjira, Patrick Mabedi, Peter Mponda and Essau Kanyenda to name a few. The talent is there, now our job is to identify and promote this talent to reach greater heights. We are working on this.”
Chester’s loan move to the USA instead of playing in the Czech Republic is to improve his all round game, both mentally and physically, to develop and to prepare him for a bigger stage to ensure he makes a mark on world football.
Key to handling the Chester move on the ground in Malawi is the football guru, Maxwell Kalamula, a true football and athletics lover. He spent a few year’s teaching athletics and sports at South End private school in Blantyre and later moved abroad to Scotland where he was involved with the Scottish football scene.
Whilst in Scotland he helped facilitate scouting and transfers for players looking at playing in the Scottish league and Chinese league.
Kalamula is an avid Be Forward Wanderers supporter and has good knowledge of the local Malawi football scene. He has been critical in ensuring both club and player reach a desired outcome beneficial to all.
Nyasa Times also understands that the group has an interest in developing a football academy in Malawi, these discussions are still in early stages.
North Carolina FC will report to training for the 2019 USL Championship season on 4th February.
Head Coach for the North Carolina FC Dave Sarachan was quoted on the club website saying: “We have scheduled games throughout our pre-season that will offer us an opportunity to evaluate and see our group in match conditions.”
He believes they have assembled a group of players that are excited and motivated to begin the 2019 season.
The first competitive game of the season will be on 9th March with North Carolina FC playing at home against Louisville City FC. The USL Championship has a national media partnership with ESPN, wherein all league matches are broadcast on ESPN+, ESPN3 and across other channels.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :