By Rabson Woodwell

The Malawi U-12 star from Play Football Malawi Academy Peter Paulo has made the country pride in this year’s Football For Friendship tournament after his Chimpanzee group emerged the champions.

This is the first time that Play Football Malawi Academy sent a player to this programme since it started some years ago which involves countries world wide and this year there were 211 countries taking part in the championship.

This year, the tournament had 32 teams and Paulo who went as a defender his team which comprised of players from Dominic, St. Kitts and Nevis, Malawi, Colombia, Benin, Congo DR, and Saransk was in group C.

The 32 teams formed 8 groups and all teams were given names of different animals and Peter’s Chimpanzee in their first preliminary game, won 2-0, the second game won 1-0, and their final preliminary match ended 7-0 in their favour taking them to quarter finals.

In the quarter finals, they demolished Gravy Zebras 10-3 sailing through to semifinals where they also comfortably thrashed Kipugnji 7-0 and the final match was so thrilling as they were trailing first half 1-0 but later equalised until they became champions after beating Komodo Dragons 2-1.

Technical Director for Play Football Malawi Academy Dave Mpima said was so delighted to see his boy successful and making Malawi pride, a thing he said has marked Malawi’s great history as far as grass root football is concerned.

“We never expected Peter to perform excellently like he has done. He has only shown that in Malawi we have great talent which we are failing to use properly especially at grass root level. This should set us an example that we can emulate and I think this is the time Football Association of Malawi (FAM) should think about football development at grass root level seriously.

‘I came with FAM’s Technical Development Officer (TDO) Benjamin Kumwenda who I think will take the message to the association so that we can see a change in our nation. This boy has really been so amazing scoring 3 goals and to my surprise, the player came as a defender but after being in camp for three days the coaches found him a good mid fielder.

“Right now, the kids will have a chance to watch the first four world cup games at their delight. It is a great experience indeed and remember that we came with a young journalist from Nkhoma Synod Radio Rachael Phiri who has recorded what was happening here preferably about her player.” Mpima with excitement explained right from Russia.

In an interview, Paulo was in total spirits with all the sudden happiness since he associated with friends from great countries and having scored to him he said was something big in his life especially at that highest level of his football career.

“Rabson, I am happy that I have managed to fulfill what I told you when you interviewed me at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) when we were leaving for Russia that I was coming to win the tournament.

“I am short of words, all what I can say is to thank my TD Dave Mpima for support and encouragement; let me promise that when I get back home, will work so hard as I have been opened my eyes; I also wish to encourage my fellow young players in Malawi that football is so exciting and good career because you do what you love comfortably and at the same time making money.” Paulo, so bragging.

This boy and his team mates have been given a cup and medals each for being the champions, representing their countries and they are expected back home Sunday 17 June, 2018 at 16:30 through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe.