There are reports that football clubs in Tunisia are threatening to boycott their new season because their government have failed to honour their annual subsidies. The reports say the Tunisian government gives every club a certain amount of money each season and just last year, it gave each top-flight club 90,000 US dollars and 50,000 for the second tier.
Further reports say the DR Congo government spent over US$530,000 on TP Mazembe in 2017 and also financed the team's 14 days training in Morocco ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup final. The government also took care of 37 air tickets, accommodation, catering, bonuses for friendlies to a tune of US$278,000.
The government also gave TP Mazembe US$251 500 before the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final and each player earned US$5 000 after winning the cup.
In Cote d'Ivoire, their National Cup (called the FA Cup) is sponsored by the government and ASEC Mimosas received about US$18,000 from the government as prize money for winning last season's competition.
This is very serious political will in order to develop the game from the bottom to the top. No wonder their locally based players use their international experience to the advantage of their national teams.
Here in Malawi teams struggle financially even to honour their local league or cup games. What they earn when they win the league or a cup competition is very little and goes towards meeting some of the expenses incurred for the tournaments.
They cannot afford to participate in any of the two CAF club championships. This is where we are missing out. The rest of African clubs are busy participarting in these tournaments while our clubs, much as the desire is there, fail to do so because of lack of money.
For this season's CAF club championship, Malawian clubs, Masters Security and Mighty Be Forward Wanderers participated and fell in the preliminary rounds of the Confederation Cup and Champions League respectively. Masters Security were up against Petro Atletico of Angola while the Nomads faced AS Vita of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
At least, from their participation, though they miserably lost, they gained points on the CAF club championship ranking. From the list of 388 clubs across the continent, Mighty Wanderers are 151, up from 350 they were on the previous posting before participating in this season's CAF Champions League while Masters Security, who made a bold move by participating in the CAF Confederation Cup just after their debut appearance in the top flight TNM Super League, are 221.
Big Bullets are on 163 from their previous 123 though they did not participate in last season but they did two seasons ago.
The rest of the COSAFA have representation in CAF club championships and the top 10 are Zesco United of Zambia (17 in Africa); Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa (18); SuperSport of South Africa (29); Zanaco of Zambia (31); Mbabane Swallows of Eswatini (32); Recreativo do Lobola of Angola (34); Orlando Pirates of South Africa (38); Dynamos of Zimbabwe (45); Township Rollers of South Africa (54) and Atletico Petrleos Luanda of Angola (57).
If Malawian teams were accorded this chance to participate in these championships, they can grow in stature and from their international experience, they can translate it into giving their best for the national team.
Maybe the government can take a leaf from what other countries mentioned by dangling a carrot for the clubs that whosoever wins the league and a national tournament can be financed to participate in these tournaments.
This can galvanise the teams to give their best in the league and the cups just like teams do to fight for place in the top eight so that they can participate in Airtel Top 8.
If our teams can regularly participate in these championships, other top clubs can be interested to sign them just like what African teams like Al Ahly of Egypt, TP Mazembe of DRC, Esperance du Tunis and Etoile du Sahel (both of Tunisia) do.
If our clubs were to be roped in by such clubs, chances of them being spotted by other overseas clubs are very high. We fail to export players to European leagues because the Flames' ranking on FIFA is far too low but if our players were to perform were in other African clubs, they would get an advantage of being picked by an overseas club based on their host country's good ranking
Many African FAs rely on their foreign-based players, especially those from Europe for the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup. We only have a few playing outside our borders but that is not good enough -- our clubs need CAF club championship participation.
This is food for thought for the powers that be if we are to make the Flames stronger. We can bring in the best coaches in world for the Flames but they can fail to deliver because our whole football system is not conducive for growth on its own.