- Flavours Cafe – One of the few good lunching spots for expats and Malawians, in Lilongwe. If we ever feel like splashing out a little of our volunteer’s living allowance, that’s where you’ll find us. With a portion of ox liver with chips and a milkshake!
- The Flames – The nickname of the Malawi Men’s National Football Team.
Thank you to Barbara, a fellow VSO volunteer who has since returned home, for funding this whole activity!
We hired a rather nice and new minibus from a neighbour in Area 11. Considering how the government set fuel prices have gone up again recently, it was very reasonably priced and came with a driver. In all honesty, there were a few too many of us crammed into that bus… 25 plus me, Harold and Yohane!
On the way there, we handed out some small basketballs to the local kids, who live and play along the dirt track. I wanted to get the Breakfast Club kids started giving to others. To everyone’s delight, every time I or the driver (in the opposite side of the vehicle) handed out a ball, our kids shouted “za nonse!” because they were translating my message of “for everybody!”
Something I hadn’t expected was the sight of the kids (as well as Harold and Yohane) seeing horses for the very first time. There are some stables on the way to Kumabli, you see. When I explained that the we (the foreigners) enjoy riding and even racing horses for fun, they had a very bemused look on their faces 🙂
When we got there, there were so many different activities to do, the kids all scattered to play!
- Playground with swings, slides and a trampoline!
- Beach/sand football pitch
- Netball court
- Bats, balls and water pistols
- Sand pits (actually designed for French boules, also known as Pétanque)
When the kids burned off their initial burst of energy, I got them together for a penalties competition, which was eventually won by Linda. Yes, all the boys were gutted!
At around 1 pm, everyone was well watered and fed with a bottle of pop and portion of very nice chips. Cheers Scott! (And sorry for stretching your trampoline!)
Following the extravaganza that was the Lilongwe Football Festival (which I made up), I was luckily invited back to play with a similar group of people. But this time, for a proper team who play regularly.
The “Bobs” had some injury problems and were short of players. So I was asked to come along earlier in the week to make up the numbers last Saturday morning.
The opponents were the CIVO United Social Team. The CIVO United 1st team finished 6th in the TNM Super League and I was told that most of Social Team players are ex-1st team players and some even ex-Malawi internationals.
Somewhat bizarrely, they were playing in full Chelsea home kit?! Anyway, right from the start, it was evident that they could all play football rather well. However, running around like a teenager was no longer their forte since most of them must have been in their late 30’s or early 40’s.
I was playing in the right fullback position in a 4-5-1 formation and started well enough. Even though we didn’t have much possession because CIVO were extremely good at keeping the ball, we managed to sneak ahead with a counter-attack goal. To be honest, it came out of nowhere.
Then, an innocuous diagonal cross came in from their right midfield. And with no one else around me, I thought I’d do a cushioned header and nod it back to the goalkeeper… who had come 20 yards and directly behind me to collect the cross. Disaster! Although the header was quite well cushioned, it still had enough pace on it to beat me from chasing after it. I just scored an own goal at the biggest stadium I’ve ever played in! 😦
Chichewa word of the day is: Ku zi chinya wekha
Meaning: To score an own goal
I don’t actually fully remember how the scoring went after that. But the whole match was closely contested and eventually finished 3-3 (I think). Which considering they have supposedly won all their games at home (as I was told), is a very good result for the Bobs!
But still, I’m not sure if I’ll get another invite…
There was a real feast of quality football in Lilongwe last weekend.
On Sunday, for the second consecutive year, the Silver Strikers F.C. won the Malawi Premier Division, also known as the TNM Super League. It was the final day of the season and they retained the title on goal difference. But the real highlight happened before that…
On Saturday, I played in an exhibition 11-a-side football match against the Reserve Bank of Malawi’s social team. It was at the Silver Strikers F.C.’s home ground, the Silver Stadium in Lilongwe, which the Reserve Bank handily owns. Having heard about the Silver Strikers’ final match, I had wondered why we would be allowed to play on their pitch the day before?! But their game was being played at the CIVO Stadium instead.
I was playing for the aptly named Sheffield Tuesday team, which was basically a collection of azungus who play 5-a-side every Tuesday. Having never played together as an 11-a-side team, we did okay! Although we ultimately lost against a decent team of locals who work for the Reserve Bank and play together every week. We gave them a real game where we opened the scoring. It was arguably my one and only contribution when I managed to control a delicate 5 yard pass from our striker Shane. And unmarked at the edge of the box, I managed a left foot curler which the keeper got a big hand to but didn’t manage to keep out! Minor detail that I was in fact aiming for curl the ball around the one defender between me and far post. It actually went inside the defender and because it didn’t really curl, it ended up in the top corner(ish). Later on in the match and in a similar position in the box, I thumped a right footed shot against the near post… I was actually aiming for the far post of course!
It was a great experience to play at the Silver Stadium and score. It’s by far the biggest stadium I’ve ever played in. That was previously AFC Telford United’s humble New Bucks Head stadium. And we even had fans!
The final score was 5-3.