The most popular sports in Malawi have traditionally been football and netball, with field athletics also having good support.
However, could the sports of the future be something different? What are the new sports that could become big hits here in the next few years?
Since it was invented in the USA at the end of the 19th century, basketball has largely been viewed as an American sport. However, the growing global appeal of the NBA has seen it become more popular all over the planet in recent years.
There is no doubt that the NBA is pushing strongly to build solid foundations in Africa. The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is their big hope for bringing through new players and increasing the profile of the sport.
In the qualifying games that were played recently, Brave Hearts of Malawi failed to qualify from group D. This means that they miss out on the chance to pass onto the Elite 16 stage, which is the second round. The league is due to start up in March 2020.
However, there are signs that basketball could be about to take off here. Traditionally, this sport has been encouraged in Malawi through the likes of the US Peace Corp and the African Bible College.
These days, there is a growing trend for American players to visit Malawi, and for African players to make the opposite journey. The first star player to come out of the country is Mphatso Gift Zilemba, who was born in Malawi, was raised in the US and became a pro in China.
At the start of the 2018-19 season, there were 13 players in the top free picks for MVP on the NBA betting odds, who were born in Africa. Time will tell whether a player from Malawi is able to make the breakthrough soon.
Like basketball, volleyball is a sport that has largely been brought to Malawi by Americans. While it doesn’t have the same high profile around the world as basketball, it is estimated that over 800 million people play this game at least once a week.
A lack of funding has been reported by the Volleyball Association of Malawi as being a major issue. Earlier in 2019, the General Secretary, Jairos Nkhoma, pointed out the need for around K40 million each year to carry out their activities.
The Zone VI Club Championship will be played at the end of 2019. This will provide a good opportunity to see how far Malawi has come to date in this sport. If you like to follow sports and making online bets, then hopefully you see Malawi’s teams progress in the near future.
The Summer Olympics in Brazil in 2016 saw Malawi compete in these games for the tenth time. While they haven’t won a medal yet, the fact that athletes travel abroad to compete on such a huge, global stage has to act as an inspiration for others.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brave Lifa took part in the men’s 50m freestyle event. Ammara Pinto competed in the women’s 50m freestyle event in the same Olympics. Neither progressed to the next stage, but their achievement in reaching the event is to be admired.
Another possible star of the future is Murray Macpherson. With new respected bookmakers pinning him as the next big athlete to watch for Malawi. The young swimmer successfully represented Malawi at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He moved to Australia with his family but he can swim for Malawi in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
It seems likely that these sports continue to grow in Malawi. This is especially true if young athletes see powerful examples from others who go on to achieve success in their chosen field.