Sports Trends -It’s a satisfying feeling to win the Misa award
BY DUNCAN MLANJIRA
12:01:19 – 06 May 2008
When South African Felix Starker visited our newsroom last year asking for publicity for his adventure of cycling for 3,000kms back to his homeland to raise money for the rehabilitation of street children, I was spell bound that I didn’t need second thoughts but give him the coverage he needed.
And he went on to prove that really was a meticulous man because the moment he started his journey, he had created a blogspot and, through SMS messages, he communicated to his fellow missionaries here in Malawi on his whereabouts, who in turn updated the website.
I religiously followed the events posted on the blogspot and relayed the information to the public through this paper up until he concluded his 30-day journey and on his return here to announce how much he managed to collect.
When he was told how The Daily Times covered the event, Starker told me that “sincerely you deserve an award for this coverage”.
I was touched by his comment because all I thought I was doing was just a little contribution by The Daily Times in a way of publicity to his noble adventure.
But after a while, I decided to keep several copies of the stories I published in the hope of sending them for consideration for the 2007/08 Namisa Media awards and it was such a satisfying feeling to win the inaugural sports category.
What inspired me about Starker’s adventure was that the man was using sports for a noble cause. That showed that sport is a powerful tool for peace.
In many cases, warring factions have always taken a break if there was an important sporting event. Many national football teams have had assurances of safety whenever they were forced to travel to countries who were on civil unrest.
The warring parties always waited until the game was over and that the visitors had flown back to their homes for them to continue their internal dispute.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is shrouded in political controversy because Tibetans are taking advantage of the Olympic Truce to demonstrate so that the world can intervene and force China to solve the problems existing in Tibet.
Sport is strong, sport unites and sport always makes humanity smile.
I saw that two weeks ago at Manyowe in Blantyre when the residents there took time off their busy schedule to gather together and participate in various activities in a spirit of camaraderie.
Today Starker and Step Kids Awareness (Steka), an NGO that takes street children off the street and back to school for which the South African was assisting, have a home at Nyambabwe in Blantyre where they teach the children how to appreciate life and impress on them to return to school.
There are so many street urchins in Malawi — many are a real nuisance — but do we ever consider the enormous potential they have?
Starker did and he went around asking for sponsorship and he really got good support from the corporate world and several individuals.
During the trip, he was once refunded money he paid for his night’s accommodation in Mozambique when the owners of the lodge discovered what he was trying to achieve.
When he finished his journey I asked in this column that can’t such street children be checked if they possess certain skills in sport?
Boxing coach Andson Kazembe saw the potential in them and he teaches them boxing.
So I am a proud man today for being voted the Best Namisa Sports Journalist of the Year.
Many readers were calling me last year encouraging me to keep updating them on Starker’s progress and that prompted me to continue pursuing the story up to the end.
Did I hear you say congrats? Wow, thank you!