Association football or soccer as it is also called has truly become a global phenomenon. Every continent has its own association, every country has its national team and a domestic league. And players are moving freely not just among clubs but often among continents to find better career prospects and more prestigious leagues to play in.
Malawi footballers are not an exception. There are several of them playing abroad – and some of them in surprising places.
UD Songo (Mozambique)
When you look for football bets in Mozambique, UD Songo will show up as one of the most successful teams in the country’s domestic league, Moçambola. And it has two Malawian players in its ranks: midfielders John Banda and Schumacher Kuwali.
Banda went professional with the Blue Eagles in 2011 and stuck with the club for four seasons before leaving to continue with Ferroviário de Nampula in Mozambique. He joined UD Songo in 2019 and he has been with the team ever since.
Kuwali had the same career path with one extra stop – he returned briefly to the Blue Eagles in 2019 before joining Songo in 2020.
Al-Ahli (Saudi Arabia)
Saudi Arabia is famous for its hotels and oil reserves but not for its football. But while it may not be a football powerhouse, it does have its professional league that is pretty strong. And it has one Malawian player: Rayane Hamidou.
Hamidou was born in Saudi Arabia and spent his early years at the youth academy of Al-Ahli, based in Jeddah. He graduated last year and made his debut with the first team before leaving on loan to another Pro League team, Al-Tai FC.
Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
Moldova is the furthest from Malawi where you can find a local footballer: Charles Petro, Sheriff Tiraspol’s defender.
Petro made his debut with the PremierBet Wizards in 2017 but his time there was short – he soon left for the Nyasa Big Bullets where he played as a defender for three seasons. During his time with the club, he was instrumental in the team’s winning its second consecutive Super League championship title. At the same time, he was named Defender of the Year and nominated for the Player of the Year award in the 2019-2020 season.
As you might expect, he was spotted by talent scouts. Initially, he was courted by Polokwane City, a South African second-tier soccer club but he rejected their offer, choosing to travel to Europe and try out with the Moldovan team Sheriff Tiraspol. His move was a success: since he signed with the Moldovan side, he played in over 30 league games and even scored twice for the team. But he never forgot his roots: he played with The Flames in their FIFA World Cup qualifiers.