Jeff Luhnow, President of Spanish club Deportivo Leganés; Rainbow Sports Global CEO Kingsley Pungong; and James Woods-Nkhutabasa, Partner at Rainbow Sports met with H.E. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, September 23rd, 2022.
The group had expressed an interest to invest in Malawi’s football industry back in February 2022 and again earlier this month via the Malawian diaspora James Woods-Nkhutabasa; Cameroonian Kingsley Pungong and Mexican-American Jeff Luhnow.
During the closed meeting with the President of Malawi, Woods-Nkhutabasa and the Director of Communcations to State House, Sean Kampondeni offered opening remarks on behalf of both parties.
The group articulated the finances they have available to develop a football academy in Malawi supported by infrastructure development consisting of pitches, offices, dormitories and other necessary sporting infrastructure.
Pungong added that the group wants to position Malawi over the coming years as a competitive sporting nation and there is no reason why this cannot be done with the youth demographic, right investment and training, supported by the good governance in the county.
Luhnow added “We want to invest in football infrastructure, training and coaching. If Malawi is given the right resources and the right expertise it can produce world class players who can change the football landscape,” he went on further to say “Malawi will be the first country to benefit from the 50 million Euros meant for Africa for the construction of football academies among the 5 countries they are identifying.”
The project will serve as a pipeline of getting talented Malawian youth into professional leagues across the world of which the group has great networks with; it will also cater in the provision of providing academic scholarships for both high school and University education.
The Group announced that they will work with internationally recognised coaches, scouts, data analysts, physiotherapists and also with local Malawian football professionals who will form the core functioning of the project. The local staff will undergo top notch training to ensure skills development is continuously developed in Malawi.
The group presented President Chakwera with a personalised club Deportivo Leganés F.C. football jersey with a befitting number 1 printed on the back and carrying his name. President Lazarus Chakwera thanked the team for the positive gesture saying the construction of the academy and developmental club will take Malawi”s football to another level and looks forward to the groups visit to Malawi.
Nyasa Times also understands that Woods-Nkhutabasa was influential in linking the Nigerian billionaire and philanthropist Tony Elumelu and President Chakwera.
When Nyasa Times contacted Woods-Nkhutabasa to verify, he had this to say: “I am surprised you found this information and yes, your sources are accurate.
“In November 2021 myself and Mr. Elumelu’s Chief of Staff arranged a meeting in Malawi for the two principals to meet, unfortunately the meeting had to be postponed and they eventually met in New York a few days ago.”
He added further: “I have done a lot to assist in the development of Malawi and her people as this is our country and we need to be patriotic and put party politics aside and country first.”
Woods-Nkhutabasa is a former Malawi diplomat who served to the European Union under both President Chakwera and former President Peter Mutharika.
Club Deportivo Leganés, S.A.D. is a football club based in Leganés, Community of Madrid, Spain, that currently competes in Segunda División and seeking to return to La Liga.
Rainbow currently owns and operates professional football clubs in Cameroon (Rainbow FC Bamenda), the Czech Republic (MFK Vyskov), Kenya (Rainbow FC Kenya), Dubai (Elite Falcons FC) and partners with Bluecrow Sports group who are owners of Mexican club (Cacun FC) and Spanish Club (CD Leganes).
Rainbow also recently launched the African Football Data Centre in partnership with Football Benchmark.