For two years now, Cobbe Barracks soldier Benedicto Makumba has been training young athletes using his own resources and he now asks for sponsorship support to enhance the talent potential that he has unearthed.
Some of his products have been bringing positive results such as Sunganani Namakonje, who is the 400m and 800m national champion and currently on a training program with Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) to prepare for the forthcoming Olympic Games.
Another is Martha Bakili, who comes on second position on 1500m and 3000m national championship while Watson Musa is a youth national champion in 100m and 200m.
“The ages of my athletes are within the range of 10 to 20 and my aim is to build good foundation of them,” said Makumba, who has been a national athlete for 22 years and was trained as coach in 2007 by renowned Malawian coach Issac Phiri — who manages Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Institute for Sports.
“I was also trained by veteran Mzee Makawa and following what I learnt from these two gurus, I founded Zomba Athletics Development Center in 2019 here in Zomba and we train at Chirunga ground at Chancellor College which has a running track.
“I managed to entice youngsters from the surrounding schools to be attending training sessions after school and on weekends for fun — using my own resources,” Makumba said.
He added: “I was so much inspired by the enthusiasm they gave to all the training tactics and they made me so proud when they competed favourably in national competitions.”
In asking for support, Makumba said the academy is now getting bigger in number of athletes who aspire to be good runners and he has trust in them that one day they shall continue bringing medals to Zomba.
“I use part of my income as a soldier and from the houses that I lent out as well as some assistance from well-wishers based in South Africa who assisted with training resources in 2019.
“But the burden now is very huge as the numbers are growing. I have the passion to help these young stars to be good athletes in future and they need a lot of support such a training shoes or T-shirt — we will appreciate that.
“When any of my athletes qualify for big events, I do ask assistance from other notable coaches such as national coaches Francis Munthali from Police College; Issac Phiri from Kamuzu Institute for Sports and Denis Phiri at Kamuzu A as well as Pachisi Nyasulu from Bishop Mackenzie in Lilongwe.”
Makumba says he is currently sourcing sounds to send some 10 or 12 athletes to compete in the 10km race which Mulanje Athletics Club has organised on Sunday, March 28.
“I have been invited by Edson Kumwamba to send some athletes there and so far I have some cash to send at least six of them. I am still looking to raise over K14,000 to transport the targeted 12.
“They need such exposure which they have been training for and am sure some will come back with a medal they are always looking forward to,” he said.
Mulanje-based Kumwamba, an international ultra marathon expert, has organised two races, the 10km on Sunday followed by a 31km one May 2 to prepare his Mulanje Athletics Club athletes for the third edition of the Blantyre Marathon scheduled for June 20.
Meanwhile, Makumba says he identifies his athletes through some sports activities while others approach the academy on their own accord having heard of what the others have achieved.
“I know what it feels to represent your district of country. I have been a national athlete for 22 years competing in many of competitions that include the Commonwealth Games, All African Games and one Olympic Games after doing well in national championships, Southern Africa championships and Africa championships.
“I want some of my athletes to achieve the same in their lifetime and that’s why I am asking for support from well-wishers to propel these ambitious youngsters to greater heights,” said Makumba, whose academy is affiliated with Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :