Wednesday 20 December 2023, 20:45

New Football Association of Malawi President meets Gianni Infantino in Jeddah

  • Fleetwood Haiya was elected as Football Association of Malawi President on 16 December

  • Discussions centred on grassroots football and the need for improved infrastructure

  • Malawi has already made big strides with the support of FIFA Forward

The new Football Association of Malawi (FAM) President, Fleetwood Haiya, has discussed the importance of good infrastructure and the need to develop grassroots football in his country during a meeting with Gianni Infantino in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Mr Haiya, elected on 16 December, also invited the FIFA President to visit Malawi in the near future to see for himself what needed to be done. “It was a great pleasure to meet the new Football Association of Malawi President Fleetwood Haiya and listen to his very detailed and far-reaching plans for developing football his country,” said the FIFA President following the meeting which took place on the eve of the FIFA Football Summit. “We talked about the importance of good infrastructure for football development and the role that football can play in education. Malawi is a country with a huge football potential and, with the support of the FIFA Forward development programme and the increased opportunities for member associations to participate in global competitions, I believe that together we can put Malawian football in the spotlight.”

The FIFA President previously met Mr Haiya’s predecessor, Walter Nyamilandu, at the FIFA Paris bureau in October 2023. The FAM has already used FIFA Forward funds to renovate the technical centre in Blantyre, giving national teams improved facilities. The victory of the women’s national team in the COSAFA Women’s Championship in South Africa in October – Malawi’s first such title – shows how ‘the Scorchers’ in particular have benefitted.

Many of that team are in their ‘teens, and youth development is also a particular focus of the FAM, which has ploughed FIFA Forward funding into grassroots football. The academy in Mzuzu is currently undergoing phased improvements, while Malawi is one of 100 member associations to have launched the FIFA Football for Schools project aimed at giving children skills for life as well as football. But Mr Haiya said that there was still much work to be done, and that, in particular, the country needed better stadiums.

“We want to make sure that Malawian football is put on the map and this can only start if we start with grassroots football,” he said. “We also discussed issues about infrastructure improvement and development, which is a key in my country. We need to have infrastructure so that that can give a platform to the players. And, indeed, we also talked about the national team’s support. “We also need capacity-building and technical support, and maybe the technical equipment,” he added. “I’m sure that, with these few goals that I have given to the President, we are going to move our football to another level in Malawi.”