By Leyman Publications with Acton Munthali in His Own Words
Just to talk of great highlights of my football days: I started playing football as every young boy does .Many play football as young boys for fun and they don’t realise or discover their talent at the earliest stages.I t was a different story with me ,, i found out that i was talented much earlier and started improving my skill.
Here are some of great highlights of my journey in short for it’s huge .
In those days we had teams in church centres, we had under 12, under 15 and under 18 teams even in primary schools. We had trophies like Rayals trophy for under 12 and I remember I lifted the trophy as a captain for Zingwangwa primary school in the late 80s . We also had Consolidated Textile trophy for under 15, Mayors trophy for under 18 and MBS trophy for secondary schools and other Malawi schools were there too. I remember we had Coca Cola trophy for Malawi schools competing in the regions; North , South and Central. Apart from that we had youth teams in every super league teams. There was a trophy for rural areas and many of us came from there gradually.
I hereby say in a special way thank you MR TALEMBA OF MPHEPO ZINAYI FOOTBALL CLUB in Mpemba Blantyre, this man was sponsoring this team where many of us got exposure. We were graduating from these small teams to big opportunities depending upon maturity and not just cruising from primary school to the national teams. I then joined BATA BULLETS youth in earl 90s and I only played 3 games and got promoted to the senior BB team. Apart from all the coaches in the likes of Late CHARLES KAGWA,ISAAC MHURA (rip ) , LOYD ZORO NKHWAZI , KELVIN MMANGITSA, GILBERT CHIRWA , PRINCE MKANDAWIRE , SWANZURIMO RHAMADAN and many more great team managers and chairmen ,,,,,,******My mentor LAWRENCE LULE WAYA ,,****** I respect this man ,, he has wisdom and he is a great teacher / coach . He knows basics of football, he helped me a lot . If LEONARD LENZO MALUNGA is reading this article , he is agreeing with me . Because we benefited a lot from this man . I argue you Malawi , use the legends to teach young ones.
My first competitive game was BB VS SILVER STRIKERS . I scored my first goal in the Super League after jumping in the presence of the great pillars YOUNG CHIMODZI and FRANCIS SONGO, in goals was the great keeper late GANIZANI MASIYE (rip) ,,, I felt on top of the moon. On the way to the top of my football time. We had under 17 ,20,23 and then a MALAWI SNR NATIONAL TEAM. One could not just go to the SNR national team without experiencing small (lower age) national teams, in other ways , grassroot football really produced stars. We were learning how to control the ball before being selected to the higher levels.That’s why even the feel of the ball was classic because many of us had exposure.
When expatiate MANFRED HOENER came to Malawi , with the help of the late REUBEN MALOLA (rip) and the JOHN KAPUTA ,,, they selected over 150 players from the whole regions of Malaw , to form a solid selection of FLAMES . Out of the 150 players , I was one of the best 25 players selected to proudly be wearing the Malawi colours . And I was not only there to play around no ,,,, but was in the first 11 regardless of professionals. I was always aiming high. I enjoyed my first international game against Zambia Senior National Team. Whereby we played against the Malitoli brothers, Tana , Andrew Tembo , Denis Lota and the likes just to mention a few. It was a great exposure. Then I also enjoyed many games apart from the BAFANA BAFANA strong side of John Monshu Shoesman , Buthelezi, Mark Fish to mention a few . What an experience.
If we go back great footballers ,,Remember all the stars like Lawrence Waya, Young Chimodzi, Bob and Albert Mpinganjira , George Waya , Harry Waya, John Phiri, Ojuku Malunga , Thom Milanzi, Mabvuto Lungu , Peter Kaunda , Barnett and Donex Gondwe , Francis Songo , John Maduka, Patrick Mabedi , Jerrard Yellowman Phiri, Dan Dzinkambani, Lawrent Kamanga, Dave banda, Hendrix Banda , Hendrix Jimu, Davei Chelewani, Colin’s Thewe, Gilbert Chirwa, Kennedy and Holman Malunga aaaaaaaa the list is endless for our stars. We all went through the right channel, that’s why our football was classic in Malawi . Am glad to have played alongside some of these great players. Here is a hint in everything, if things are not well it is wise to go back to basics . That’s the only way for Malawi football can resurrect again and I urge all well wishers to implement these, what I have just said for the good of Malawi and the flames strong future. Much as we know that money is a problem, but we used to love football and we stirred our talents without money and improved gradually. I cry for Malawi I cry for the good old days we used to enjoy football.
Am sure what I have shared will ring a bell to the football governing body to do something and start persuading companies to invest in grassroot football in Malawi. Remember Kanabar Stars for the late Kadawira Msosa ..,, it’s where the likes of Fisher Kondowe, Gift Zakazaka, Fundi Akidu and many more came from… Just to add up.I will always say this for that’s what really helped many of us to test great football and make Malawi proud .
I wish you all the best for I have said it and revealed what may be ,many players have been afraid to share . We have talent in Malawi . Don’t look at the now results but build it from grassroot level and look for great performance first . Results won’t be forced. It might take time but better to start this now. Action is needed for faith without actions is dead. Include the legends to run the Football Association. In Chichewa we call them ‘Ngwazi za Mpira’, sometimes it’s better to give them a chance and more time to build the team. Don’t just rush in sacking them, we will end up running in circles.
I stopped playing active football in 2002 ,when we had played Vita lo of Burundi , I was on and off due to my knee injury sustained in the AFCON game in Botswana in 1997. In short this is part of my great football experience in Malawi. Currently in the United Kingdom , I am planning to help the grassroot level football, to boost the young ones in great facilities. If a young boy can juggle a tennis ball in early stages,, am sure he can’t fail to control the size 5 ball . Hahahaha stop teaching ball controls at international level . Teach them when they are still young . Stop taking players from primary schools straight into the senior national FLAMES ,,, it’s the same as giving a newly born baby Nsima instead of milk and then gradually porridge as they grow slowly . GOD BLESS MALAWI.