Despite the controversy that sorrounds Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu’s honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Arts (PhD) degree from US-based Cypress University, World football governing body, FIFA as well Confederation of African Football (CAF) have congratulated their Council Member for the recognition.
The doctorate degree was awarded in acknowledgement of Nyamilandu’s achievements in developing football in Malawi.
FIFA president Giovanni ‘Gianni’ Infantino said: “I have the great pleasure to express to you, on behalf of FIFA and myself, my warmest congratuIatIons on your recent Honorary Doctorate of PhiIosophy of Arts degree, conferred by US-based Cypress International Institute University.
“This is a weII deserved honour that rewards your passion and exemplary commitment to footbaII and recognises all your efforts to promote our beautiful sport, protect its integrity and develop the game in your country, in your region and aII over the world.
“Reiterating my sincerest congratuIatIons on your outstanding contribution to football development, I wish you the very best in your next endeavours and Iook forward to seeing you again very soon.”
On his part, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad said: “Your dedication and contribution to the game of football at both national and continental levels is beyond question.
“We look forward to more of your wisdom, insights and knowledge as we work together in developing the beautiful game on the African continent.”
Former national team coach Kinnah Phiri, who is now director of football development in the Ministry of Sports, also congratulated Nyamilandu, saying football administration has tremendously improved the country.
“It is unfortunate that people are focusing on Cypress University. What if it were Harvard or Oxford University what would they have said?
“The question is whether Nyamilandu has done enough to deserve the award or not? And to answer that question I say yes, he has done a wonderful job in lifting football standards in Malawi and deserves to be acknowledged.
“If you look back at our football 15 years ago, we were not like this. Now FAM is run by qualified employees at its secretariat operating as professionals and this was not the case.
“We have well established youth football structures to groom talent which was not there before. Now we have beautiful infrastructure at Chiwembe where the national teams (junior and senior Flames) can camp in preparation for international matches.
“In the past this was not the case and it was difficult. So the facts on the ground show a lot of development hence the award,” he said.
Nyamilandu has since dedicated the award to all football lovers in the country saying his achievements have not be been done by him alone but through team work.
After accepting the award at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), Nyamilandu had said:
“Together we have achieved milestones and made strides in the development of football in this country in the areas of infrastructure, grassroots football, accountability and financial controls, good partnership with corporate sponsors, commercialization of the game and 2010 AFCON qualification.
“From passionate football fans who make sacrifices for football to happen in Malawi; to the affiliates who organize football at grassroots, district, regional and national levels; the people who use their own personal resources to support their clubs; and everyone from ball boys, stewards, clubs and our most treasured assets the players I salute you. This is for you,” he said.
Nyamilandu said it was high time football got recognized in Malawi because it contributes a lot to the social economic development of the nation.
“Football is no longer just an entertainment platform. It now provides employment to many and creates lots of business opportunities. So it must be appreciated,” he said.