Eight Teams from Lilongwe rural and urban primary schools are set to battle for the championship of the Under 12 and 15 Limbe Leaf Trophy set for Saturday at Area 30 IG Police Headquarters Ground in the city.
The eight include four football and netball teams in the Under 12 and 15 and football in the same categories.
According to Limbe Leaf Corporate Affairs Manager, Leah Hez, this year the company has invested K11 million in the tournament.
The competition started in the zones in three Education Districts which ran from two months from the 29th of October 2022 before the inter-zone games were played from 28th January 2023 to 5th February 2023 while inter-district games were played for two consecutive weekends on 25th and 26th February 2023 and on March 4th and 5th. A total of 492 schools have participated with eight teams reaching the semi-finals.
This year’s finals will see Balang’ombe battle with Tsabango for the under 12 netball title, while John Lee will face Balang’ombe in the under 15 netball categories.
Balang’ombe football team will face Chatsala in the under 12-football category, while Mwenyekondo and Njewa will fight for honours in the under 15 football category.
“Limbe Leaf started sponsoring the tournament in the early 1980s to develop grassroots sports and to motivate children to stay in school. As a company, our initiatives towards primary education are multifaceted and include construction of infrastructure at primary schools, provision of learning materials, sanitary pads for the girl child and tools and equipment for after-school activities. All these greatly aid in the drive to prevent children from being engaged in field work and other risky behavior,” said Hez.
On prizes, Hez said the company usually gives the players learning materials that boost pupils’ interest in school but also lessen the burden on parents in purchasing school supplies.
“For all players in teams on positions one and two, prizes include school bags, school supplies, pens and pencils. For best players or scorers prizes include a drinking bottle, dictionary and an atlas, while champions and other schools up to position four receive t-shirts, footballs and netballs,” explained Hez.
James Chavula the tournament’s organizing chairperson said all is set and teams have promised to display good sports skills on the day.
“Preparations are on course. We have been in touch with the teams and they are excited not only to win, but even to play at one of the big and good grounds like IG Police Headquarters is a motivation to them. You know most of the teams are from rural areas where they do not have access to quality sporting materials. I am sure on the day we will see talent that the tournament aims to unearth,” he said.
This year 492 teams participated in the competition. This is about three years after it was suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Since its inception, the tournament has produced notable players that have represented the Malawi national teams and big clubs in the country like former Silver Strikers and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers’ defender Lucky Malata, Andrew Banda of Civo Service United, Gomezgani Chirwa , midfielder for FCB Nyasa Big Bullets, former Bullets defender and midfielder Pilirani Zonda and Nelson Kangunje respectively, Silver Strikers goalkeeper Steve Micheta, striker Mphatso Philemon of Mafco, and netball star Joyce Mvula of Central Pulse and formerly Manchester Thunders in UK.