Top marketer Wilkins Mijiga is aspiring to take over the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) presidency during the December 12 elections. He was nominated by Super League of Malawi (SULOM) to challenge incumbent Walter Nyailandu who is seeking a fourth term. Nyasa Times engaged Mijiga for an exclusive interview.
Mr. Wilkins George Mijiga, you are vying for the Presidency of FAM, Tell us who you are and your track record?
I am a 1993 Graduate of Economics and Sociology from Chancellor College, University of Malawi and a Post Graduate scholar in Leadership with the University of Cape Town, has been a consummate and passionate driver, campaigner, innovator, architect, pioneer, veteran, manager and Administrator of a lot of football initiatives and campaigns in Malawi at all levels from secondary, university, community to National level. I was born on April 6th, 1971, and currently work as Head of Strategy, Marketing and Corporate Affairs for National Bank of Malawi. I am also a Board Member of Airport Development Limited (ADL) since 2014 and I also co-own one of Blantyre’s elite, most prestigious and up market pub called HS Winehouse.
Most people know you as a banker and a marketer or a corporate leadership scholar. What football administrative credentials do you have to run for such office?
I have a very rich track record in football involvement not only as a player, which almost every Malawian boy does at one time or another , but in football management and it started from my high school days and runs as follows;:
From 1987 to 1989 I was Team Manager, Malosa Secondary School Football Team Where I was instrumental in facilitating the day to day coordination and operations of the Malosa Secondary School Football Team during its participation in the then Famous MBS Trophy.
Some of the prominent members of that team included Lennox Thipa who went to play for Admarc Tigers, Austin Mandiwa who is currently in the USA, late Paul Kankodo who went on to play for UFC, Zonena Zimphonje, Wilson Nanungu, a Physiotherapist with QECH. Todate they still call me “athimu”; colloquial Chichewa for Team Manager.
From 1992 to 1993 I was Team Manager, Chilunga (Chancellor College ) Football Club This was another two years of being the operative and administrative champion for the coordination and facilitation of the logistical requirements to run Chanco Football Club that was playing in the Blantyre and District Football League division two .
Most of the players in the Chanco team graduated their way up into the UFC (University Football Club) of those days that was playing in the Premier League, the most prestigious league at time
From 2000 to 2001 I was Manager and Champion of the Carlsberg Cup I championed the launch of the first ever Carlsberg Cup in 2000 as Brand Manager for Carlsberg Malawi. As the Carlsberg brand champion, I took the lead in the conceptualization, packaging and bringing into being the Carlsberg Cup and its subsequent holly razzmatazz of execution that made the Carlsberg Cup of 2000 achieve Pop Star status with its novel execution of bringing military aircrafts to spice the cup final including using of beauty pageants to bring the cup making it become more than a cup final but a massive exciting football pageantry.
In 2005 I was Vice Chairperson and Coordinator of the FAM CUP
On January 5th 2005 on the request and approach by the President of the Football Association of Malawi to help the Association deal with the draught of Cups and Tournaments sponsorship in Malawi at his taking office, I used my rich social capital and professional and social networks to coordinated a caucus of professionals and business executives that formed the FAM CUP Campaign chaired at that time by the Vice President the Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima.
As Vice Chairperson I was in charge of the operational and logistical coordination of the day to day administrative and routine operations of the FAM Cup Campaign.
The Committee conceptualized and launched the FAM CUP initiative, conducted a self-help funds mobilization for the Cup and ran the organisation of the matches in the competition and the attendant logistics of running a Football Cup Competition including the format of fixtures and then the execution and staging of the Finals having secured aK6 million once of sponsorship from Press Trust.
Having successfully ran this campaign and given birth to the FAM Cup, Standard Bank came to take it over and rechristened the Cup to Standard Bank Cup.
In 2008 I was Pioneer and Founding member, BEACH SOCCER
I worked as a founder and pioneer member of the first ever Beach soccer tournament that happened in Sunbird Livingstonia Beach in Salima.
As a key member of the team I was key in driving the conceptualization of the trophy, the venue booking and scheduling of the event. Most critically I championed the resource mobilization to run the launch by securing sponsorship of K0.5 million from National Bank of Malawi. I was also one of the few members of the team that attended 10 of the meetings running up to and during the launch of the Beach Soccer in Malawi.
Since 2003 Member of the Big Bullets Board of Trustees
From 2008 to 2012 I was Board Member, National Council of Sports
From 2009 to 2010 I was Chairperson, FLAMES 2010 Resource Mobilization Campaign
My highest achievements and contribution to football to date came in 2009 when I appointed by the Malawi Government, under the recommendation of FAM and National Council of sports to Chair a special Task Force to mobilize resources from the corporate world, the private sectors and the Malawian public with the purpose of applying those resources and make them available to be used by the Malawi National Football Team, the FLAMES to participate in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
I led the task force which included prominent members such as Peterkins Kayira, Mrs. Wilma Chalulu, Mr. Darlington Ndasauka, Mrs. Stella Hara and many others; to go on the highway conducting fund raising initiative including big walks, SMS (short message service) Promotions, Music shows, dinner and dances and seeking pledges of support.
These efforts culminated in engaging the help of the Chief Executive Officer of Press Corporation , Professor Matthews Chikaonda who helped mobilize business captains to pledge in excess of K22 million that was paid over to FAM on January 7th 2015 and enabled the FLAMEs effectively at the 2010 AFCON in Angola
It seems you have been deeply involved with football, how about FAM, have you been directly involved with their Activities?
Of course most deeply involved. The FAM Cup initiative as well as the 20110 FLAMES Resource Mobilization were direct activities benefiting not only the people of Malawi but FAM in particular. I have also been engaged by FAM at various levels on other key assignments like in 2012 to 2013 when I was Member of the FAM Commercialization and Marketing Team
In this assignment I worked as a lead and member of the Commercialization and Marketing Initiative to make FAM a fully-fledged-self-financing and financially vibrant and independent Association that generate adequate financial resources through innovation and initiatives to be commercially viable. This initiative culminated in the launch of the first ever FLAMES Replica Jerseys deal with PUMA and the subsequent launch of the PUMA Replica Jerseys and its marketing and vending.
What other key initiative have you been involved with in the Football arena?
In 2014 I Chaired the Resource Mobilization campaign for KEEP BLANTYRE CLEAN and GREEN and the Blantyre MAYOR’s CHARITY SHIELD
I worked as part of the team that championed the launch of the Mayor’s Charity Shield in 2014 in the month of November following on to the Mayors Ball that happened on November 1, 2014 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Khwesi Msusa.
As Chair I was part of the key personalities that led the team in the conceptualization of the tournament, liaison with stakeholders including the participating teams and all the logistics and administrative tasks of managing the Tournament end to end. And the Shield was won by Mighty Be Forward Wanderers. We are currently working on the 2015 version .
So why must Malawians, through the FAM Affiliates , elect you as the next FAM president?
As President Barack Obama said when he visited the AU this year , we need change of leadership to bring in new insights and energies into our institutions and communities.
Most significantly I have a vibrant energy towards society initiatives not only in football but many spheres, I am an ardent believer of and a devoted embracer and doer of everything to do with good corporate governance, I truly believe and walk transparency which has given me a great source of social capital and networks with all the key stakeholders in any business and social endeavours and I have demonstrated that I can use my social credits and capital to benefit football before. I will use that same capital to turn football into a vibrant , thriving and sustainable business that will benefit all the key stakeholders.
What will be unique about Wilkins Mijiga, should he become FAM president?
I will make FAM transparent by publishing its audited accounts every year, as a constitutional must, as champion the cause of ring fencing corporate governance by abolishing Life Presidency at FAM by advocating for term limits and empowering the affiliates to be meeting FAM as a governing council at least three times in a year so that the FAM Executive is held accountable to the people of Malawi for its actions.
Most importantly I am exceptionally innovative and have an abundant knack of creativity and I do things with the utmost of perfection and I am poised, with the support of all the key stakeholders in football to take Malawian football to the top ten of within the next four years and the top five within the next ten years by doing what every intelligent sensible person does, building from the ground level with a strong foundation and not starting to build with the roof as is the case now where all we focus is the national team.
No, I will make football vibrant from grass root football academies through active vibrant district and regional leagues and tiered age bracketed national squads right to the super League, which is already professionally ran and vibrant, to the national team. I will do the hard work of building from the bottom not the lazy easy way of just participating in every tournament even when we are not ready.
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