Super League of Malawi (SULOM) president Tiya Somba-Banda, stresses that his tenure of office from 2019 has laid strong foundation of football professionalism — highly emphasizing the “landmark revenues in TV broadcasting rights from a meagre K18 million to K116 million”.
In an interview, Somba-Banda — who seeks re-election at the elective annual general meeting on February 25 — said his administration opened up additional revenue streams for teams in terms of kit sponsorship and also enjoyed strong relationship with Football Association of Malawi (FAM) that lead to K100 million annual grant.
“We also secured a landmark players’ medical insurance contract with Medical Aid Society of Malawi (MASM),” he said. “Players are now getting medical care at MASM registered clinics and hospitals.
“We also rolled out of an automated Super League Competition Management System (CMS) in line with Confederation of African Football (CAF) and world football governing body FIFA standards.
“We also re-negotiated the sponsorship package [with Super League sponsors, TNM] leading to increase of prize money from K15 million to K40 million — which is a 166% increase and with K82 million of the K100 million sponsorship going directly to the teams.”
He also emphasized that his tenure saw a violence-free matches, saying families are now free to bring to the stadia bringing their kids along.
Asked if the Super League improved in his tenure, Somba-Banda confidently said it has especially in terms of match organisation as explained, adding that “the only issue we need to improve is on fixture management”.
Going forward, Somba-Banda said: “Clubs will now be receiving a minimum of K5 million annual grant from SULOM and will no longer be required to pay their club licensing surety.”
The next level that the SULOM president can attain is the FAM presidency and asked if he aspires for such a position, he laughed it off, saying: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves”.
Nominations from affiliates have already opened on January 20 and Somba Banda says teams are yet to submit nominations but he was hopeful to secure.
Nyasa Big Bullets vice-president, Fleetwood Haiya is being considered for nominations by some strong affiliates for Somba-Banda’s post but Haiya said in an interview that he was still considering whether to accept the challenge or not having been approached by some affiliates, saying he would do so by close of business on Tuesday having widely consulted.
Asked if he felt disturbed that he has a strong contender since he became SULOM president in 2019 unopposed, Somba-Banda said he was completely unperturbed.
“Unopposed or with a competition, it is all the same to me as what is important is to drive the aspirations of the clubs — which is progressing football into a professional financial viable venture.”
However, football fans took to social media as reports indicate that Haiya is being encouraged by affiliates to contest for the post of SULOM following a post by Archibald Kasakura of a picture of Haiya on Facebook with the caption: “Ladies and Gentlemen — the future of Malawi football is here. Achalume Fleetwood Haiya”.
The fans were optimistic that Haiya has what it takes to lead Malawi’s elite football league.
He is lauded for the management success of Nyasa Big Bullets over the recent years as its vice-president, which has very sound administrative structures including taking good care of its players’ economic welfare.
In his response to Kasakula’s post, Christopher Sande said: “I am not a Nyasa Big Bullets fan, but I admire this guy” while Spencer Zimba said: “Awa amatha simukunamayi. Umu muli kudziwa administration (this man is indeed a good administrator”).
Steve Zimba and Daniel Mababa also attested that Haiya is such a good administrator and the right person to lead the Super League while Gift Majanja hinted that he is a sound character that is needed to take over the presidency of Football Association of Malawi (FAM).
Sekani Mkonda agreed to this, saying he should indeed eye the post of FAM presidency, whose elective AGM is in December and Mkonda hinted that if Haiya was to contest against Walter Nyamilandu as FAM presidency, “he can beat him”.
“Walter lacks a competitor and Haiya can offer that. Maybe he wants to start from the bottom but SULOM is a Mickey Mouse organisation,” she said. However, the FAM presidency is competed for by a member of FAM’s affiliates after being nominated by his affiliate association.
Mateso Chikhadzula said: “Ku FAM tikanakhala timavota tonse tikanasintha kale kale chinthu chija (if the general populace was to vote at FAM, things could have improved) — otherwise it’s the same song.”
At the last AGM in 2019, Somba-Banda’s team included Major Gilbert Mittawa as his deputy; treasurer is Malinda Chinyama; general secretary is Williams Banda (unopposed); his deputy is Zacharia Nyirenda while lawyer Muhammad Selemani is the legal advisor.
Executive committee members are Ali Mwachande, Charles Manyungwa, marketer Chimwemwe Nyirenda and Michael Chemayere.