FAM launches new programs to support women’s football

Women football

Photo by Daniel Norin on Unsplash

The Malawi Football Association (FAM) is ramping up more initiatives for women’s football. With full support from FIFA, more motivational talks and bonuses are given out in the country.

This April in Karonga, FAM enlisted the help of women’s football ambassadors to encourage girls’ involvement in the sport. Athletes such as Maggie Chombo, Linda Kasenda, and Asimenye Simwaka conducted talk shows.

FAM’s technical director Benjamin Kumwenda said that the Karonga event marked the launch of the FIFA Second Phase Programme. “The FIFA-funded project aims to popularize the women’s football game among young girls to get them involved in the game. It was nice to see so many girls coming to Karonga,” said Kumwenda. 

Kumwenda further stressed the importance of reaching girls at the grassroots level. FAM has been providing them opportunities to participate in Under-14 and Under-16 competitions.

In the Karonga campaign, numerous women’s football teams participated actively. This includes Karonga United Women Football Team, Baka City Women, Ndagha Academy, KK Sisters, Baka United, and Zinde Academy.

During the first phase, the women’s football campaign commenced in three cities: Blantyre, Lilongwe, and Mzuzu. The second phase, according to Kumwenda, will extend to Zomba and Kasungu districts.

Looking ahead, plans are underway to launch the initiative in Rumphi District. Potential expansions to Chikwawa or Mulanje will be anticipated for the upcoming year.

Call for expansion and sustainability

FIFA’s support helps FAM make sure that it has the necessary resources to help nurture young talents. Despite commendable efforts, some have called for the expansion of such programs to all districts in Malawi. 

Invy Mwafulirwa, chairwoman of the Northern Region Women’s Football Association, is vocal about the program’s lack of reach. She said that expansion is needed to tap into the talent pool at the grassroots level.

“The current situation left a lot to be desired,” she said. According to Mwafulirwa, competitions being held in cities means leaving a large talent pool in the district.

“We call on the authorities to look into this if we want to grow the sport in the country,” she added.

Adding to the conversation is Severia Chalira, former president of the National Women Football Association (NWFA). Chalira further stressed the importance of sustainability in these initiatives.

Chalira admits that the motivational talks and bonuses serve as valuable incentives. However, there is a need to formulate plans for long-term growth.

“Of course, the program can easily be implemented in schools. Moreover, it should be linked to a sustainability plan without consuming the worst time and resources,” he said.

On a larger scale

The development of women’s football in Malawi aligns with FIFA’s greater mission in South Africa through its Forward program. FIFA provides support to regional bodies like the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA).

FIFA allocates funds to COSAFA to organize tournaments for women’s national teams and youth teams. It supports the COSAFA Women’s Championship, allowing women’s national teams to compete at the highest level. The tournament has witnessed significant improvements in the level of play, with Malawi being the winner in its last edition. 

“This development is largely due to FIFA’s Forward grant to the Zonal Unions and the ability to organise consistent annual tournaments,” said COSAFA secretary general Sue Destombes. 

As football athletes continue to improve their skills, the sport grows more popular as well. Supporting their favorite teams through bitcoin soccer betting became fans’ favorite pastime.

Other projects are happening in addition to organizing tournaments. For example, the FIFA Forward funding facilitates research projects focused on female health. The well-being research is done during competitions like the COSAFA Women’s Championship. 

Belinda Wilson, FIFA’s Senior Technical Development Manager, said that this is part of FIFA’s commitment. It aims to boost the confidence, health, well-being, and performance of female players. 

Dr. Nonhlanhla S. Mkumbuzi, for example, has been conducting extensive research on women’s health for four years. She aims to enhance the holistic well-being and performance of female athletes in the region.

“We know that we have a shortage of research on women and girls in sport. Most of that research has been conducted on women and girls from high-income countries; women and girls from the global north,” Dr. Mkumbuzi said. 

Her research is an example of FIFA directing resources towards specific regions and their challenges. Dr. Mkumbuzi is confident that effective resource allocation will help address pertinent issues.

Through collaborative efforts between FIFA, COSAFA, and FAM, women’s football continues to thrive in Southern Africa.


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