Everson Mkwangwanya- Retired FIFA Referee
Everson was born on 9th July 1943. He qualified as a referee in 1971 while working for Commercial Bank. He moved to Zomba where he officiated matches and worked as a Bank Manager between 1974 and 1976)
In 1978 he was picked on to FIFA List and became FIFA Referee while working as Commercial Bank Manager in Lilongwe. He got moved to Blantyre in 1983 where he continued football officiation as a FIFA Referee and a National Football Referees Instructor.
He was Chair of FAM Referees Sub committee from 1985 to 1988.
During his time, he mostly got international appointments and travelled together with Bester Kalombo and Billy Phambala. At that time referees were not specializing; one would officiate as a referee today and tomorrow as a linesman yet wearing a FIFA Referees’ Badge.
He retired from active football refereeing in 1989.
Denis Saidi: Flames Legend
Dennis Saidi is a legendary Goalkeeper who played for Bata Bullets, Now FCB Nyasa Big Bullets and Malawi National Football Team the Flames
He started his international career when he was 20 years old as he travelled with the Malawi Schools in 1974 to play against the Kenyan counterparts.
At that time, he was studying at Namitete Technical School and was playing for Toyota Cranes player and Central Region Schools.
Saidi played his first Flames game under caretaker coach Hydri when he came on as a substitute for John Dzimbiri in a 8-1 loss to neighbors Zambia in Lusaka on the 27 of March 1977.
He retained his place under newly appointed coach George Curtis, where he kept three consecutive clean sheets in two goalless draws and a narrow 1-0 win against Tanzania.
Saidi later became an understudy to late Boniface Maganga under the late British Ted Powell and played in the East and Central Senior Challenge Cup (ECASCC) on 08 December 1977 in a 2-1 victory against Kenya to win the bronze medal.
He continued to understudy Maganga and Dzimbiri, but was called back in the seventh fixture of 1978 during an All-Africa Games Finals in Algiers, Algeria against Egypt
He played in 5 of the ECASCC games and was in goals when Malawi won their first Gold Medal after beating Zambia 3-2 on home soil.
He was also the first-choice goalkeeper as Malawi successfully defended the East AND Central Challenge Cup in Kenya in 1979
His played his last international match on 18 November 1981 in a 2-2 draw against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam.
In total he played 21 Flames games and kept five clean sheets winning two trophies. He also won several trophies with Bullets.
Robin Alufandika- An Industrious Football Administrator
Robin Alufandika is an industrious, passionate, and dedicated football administrator and probably the longest serving club Football administrator in the country.
He also holds the record for being a non-coaching staff to be part of technical panels of three Super League Clubs, namely Mighty Wanderers, MDC, and Mighty Tigers.
His mainstream football career started in the early 2000’s as team manager for Mighty Wanderers.
He then moved to MDC as Technical advisor before joining Admarc Tigers in the same role in 2004.
In 2005 he returned to Wanderers as Team Manager before making his way back to Tigers again as Technical Director in 2006, a role he has maintained up to date.
When Admarc stopped sponsoring Tigers in 2007, Alufandika and a few individuals joined forced to support the team to ensure it did not die .
While all the individuals threw in the towel, he stuck with the team and has used own resources for the past 16 years to single handedly keep Tigers .
While most football clubs that were sponsored by statutory corporations like Escom and MDC died a natural death when the companies stopped sponsoring them , Alufandika has ensured Tigers remains intact as a top performing Super League midtable side despite losing Admarc support. To date Tigers proudly stand among the four teams alongside Bullets, Wanderers and Silver to have been ever present in each season since the Super league was formed in 1986.
He also has a good eye for talent as he scouts raw talent from rural areas and polish them into gems who are quickly poached by bigger teams and turn into National team assets. Stanley Sanudi, Yamikani Chester, Limbikani Mzava and most recently new Flames goalkeeper Innocent Nyasulu are some examples.
Ascent Soccer Academy- Exceptional Youth Development Initiatives
Ascent Soccer Malawi began in late-2014 as ‘Chigoli Academy’. It is strategically located in the capital Lilongwe. Since inception, Ascent Soccer has developed into a residential academy with over 80% of academy players in boarding facilities. It is the only full-time academy soccer and scholarship program in the country. They deliver opportunities and global pathways for both boys and girls.
During the years Ascent Soccer has run regional talent identification events and open trials for over 40,000 youth, from which their current group of 65 student-athletes has been selected. Over seven years of programming, they have enrolled full-time soccer scholars from every region of Malawi.
The current academy set-up includes male U14, U16 and U18 squads, along with the U14 & U18 Ascent Girls.
All five groups enjoy a full-time academic, character, football, and health/nutrition program, led by a committed group of international and local staff — and there are no fees or costs for any of Ascent’s student-athletes.
So far the Academy has sent seven players abroad , six to the USA on a global scholarship programme and one to Italy. The opportunities available abroad are life-changing, and these talented and determined student-athletes are on a journey to the NCAA and world-class soccer and scholastic pathways. The Ascent Soccer Global Scholars are currently on full scholarship at some of North America’s best academic institutions.
The academy has also produced over 15 youngsters who have represented Malawi in different national football teams. Two girls Ireen Khumalo and Marian Mnenula were part of the Women’s Football National team at last year’s COSAFA Women’s Championship while four girls and four girls were in the Malawi Under 17 squads for the 2022 Regional Five games.
Ascent co-founder George Maguire was responsible for sending Malawi best female export Tabith Chawinga to Europe. He spotted Tabitha with her local club at age 17 and after pulling together a video and spreading the word, helped her land a professional contract with Sweden’s Kvarnsvedens IK. Tabitha has just signed for Inter Milan in Italy
Several players have also graduated from academy and joined Super League teams.