Malawi have never been to the World Cup, have been to Africa Cup of Nations only twice, and on paper their greatest accomplishment in the sport was winning a bronze medal at the 1987 All Africa games. The Flames have also won Africa’s oldest tournament, the CECAFA Cup three times, while being runners up three times as well. So to say the country is football crazy is an understatement.
Sadly Malawi is also the poorest country in the world per capita,where the majority of the population are trapped in cycles of poverty and where less than 12% of children finish secondary school and over 10% of the population live with HIV. So understandably football development often takes a back seat to more pressing matters.
Enter Chigoli ( it means Goal in the main traditional language Chichewa ) which since its formation in 2013 by George Maguire and Alex Scott, has been identifying talented young boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14 and works with them in a holistic, player centred environment through which role models for future generations are created. As per its website it operates a vibrant community programme supporting disadvantaged groups in Malawi through football tournaments including up to 2,500 street children, including the blind, albinos and refugees.
A couple of weeks ago it accomplished something even more amazing in Blantyre as Malawi celebrated a new kind of football. In conjunction with Dr Andrew and Sally Feyi-Waboso of Sight 2020 – a charity for visually impaired – they held a football camp for the blind.
Aided by the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, the Feyi-Wabosos’ brought with them specialist equipment, information material, goals, bibs, cones and tops and soon had the camp bubbling with both laughter and squeals of excitement and joy.
The pilot program took place at Montfort Special Needs Education School in an area called Nguludi.
For those who have no experience of football for the blind, the ball contains ball bearings which rattle, allowing the players to know where the ball is. Once this is learned it increases the confidence of the children so that they are comfortable running forwards, backwards, and sidestepping. It is hoped that this newly found confidence follows the players when they leave the field to be applied in other walks of life.
It was clear from the start that the children enjoyed the experience, and it was fantastic to see how quickly many of them took to it. Some children, as expected took to this much quicker than others, but cheered on by a crowd of children without visual impairment they grew in confidence, and even started scoring goals.
Based on the programs initial success Maguire, Scott and the Feyi Wabosos’ have pledged to continue this partnership and continue to build on this amazing new foundation. There is no doubt that the game is changing in Malawi, and with an organised tournament for girls in the pipeline for Chigoli, football is becoming more accessible for groups that have not had these opportunities before.
For more information on the programme or on how you can help please click on any of the links below or use the hashtag #ChangeTheGame to help enhance your search
Culled from Chigoli.org – Photos couresty Sight 2020Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :