Thursday 20 June 2019, 12:00

FIFA Forward leaving a legacy at the U-20 World Cup

  • FIFA Forward worked with the Malawi FA to provide a suitable Marketing Venue Manager

  • Limbani Matola was brought to the U-20 World Cup in Poland

  • “It’s been an amazing life experience”

There are so many sleepless nights behind the scenes for those who organise FIFA tournaments. When fans switch on a match on their TVs or mobile phones, it is easy to forget all that goes on and the work that hundreds of people do to make it happen.

This was evident for Limbani Matola, who was brought in, thanks to the FIFA Forward 2.0 Programme, to work as FIFA Marketing Venue Manager for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 in Bydgoszcz.

Matola works as the Commercial and Marketing Director for the Malawi FA, a position he has held since December 2015, where he has helped to secure key sponsorships for competitions and other commercial partnerships important for the FA.

“To be part of the FIFA team organising the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland has been an amazing life and learning experience,” Matola said. “I’m overwhelmed actually. It’s a special privilege that I could be among the very few people chosen to deliver top-level quality for these matches.

“There have obviously been great lessons. Coming from Africa where we still have some way to catch up in terms of delivery, it’s been quite a huge eye opener. One key message that I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what your background or cultural differences are, but when we come together, we deliver the best.”

Matola’s responsibilities in Bydgoszcz included ensuring the right delivery of FIFA’s commercial affiliates while managing volunteers who reported to the Venue Marketing Manager, including the onsite team. During his time at the venue he showed great cooperation and supported his team members with all tasks at hand.

Limbani Matola, FIFA Marketing Venue Manager for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 in Bydgoszcz.

“What I have seen also is that football has the power to unite people from diverse continents,” said Matola. “This gives the best experiences to not only the FIFA commercial affiliates, but also the football fans. We deliver an experience which provides world-class football for fans, in addition to talented players from all over the world.”

Matola is going back to Malawi with plenty of new experiences, many lessons learned and confident that he will be given the space to make sure his newly-acquired skills are transferred to the FA and its activities. He already plans to conduct workshops to make sure that everything he has learned in Poland is delivered in Malawi in the future.

“The main takeaways were planning, there was a lot of planning involved to make sure everything was delivered to the standard of a world-class event,” he said. “The other thing is that there is no room for error, especially in our case for marketing. We had to check everything to ensure conformity with the commercial rights of FIFA’s partners. That has given me great insight in paying attention to detail.”

“One of the aims of the FIFA Forward programme is to enable the FIFA member associations to advance the skills of their staff members through capacity building and knowledge sharing," said FIFA Forward Chief Officer Joyce Cook. "As such, we are delighted with the on-site experience that Limbani Matola has gained as a Marketing Venue Manager at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. We will continue to provide similar opportunities in the future sharing FIFA’s best practices with our member associations."

Matola emphasised the importance of collaboration between all departments, and that when there is seamless communication between them, the best delivery happens.

“I’d like to really thank FIFA for the privilege that I could come here and have a firsthand experience for myself and for Africa in general,” he said. “I’m sure these skills I've learned will be useful not only to Malawi but also to CAF (Confederation of African Football) and COSAFA (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations), where we also participate as far as football competitions are concerned in Africa.

I’m looking forward to many more experiences going forward into the future.”