India Has Been a Terrific Host: Malawi

By Rahul Vaishnavi

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS): The Commonwealth Games hosted by India are the best Malawi has seen and the city of Delhi is "terrific", says the African country's chef de mission.

"If India is given another chance to host such an event, I am sure it will still be the best," Haskon Chapasa told IANS. "I am really impressed with the organising of the event here. Our every demand was taken care of smoothly."

According to him, the best thing about the Games Village that was home to thousands of athletes and officials was the food -- it offered something for everyone.

"Managing the right food for everybody is not easy, especially when you have thousands of people to look after. But everyone's need and taste were taken care of," he said, echoing a widespread compliment.

What about the overall hygiene in the Village and the dengue scare that had earlier given many delegates sleepless nights besides forcing a few to pull out of the Games?

"We didn't experience anything. It was perfectly fine. All the earlier problems in the Village were taken care of. Intense fumigation took place every day and we were not worried at all," Chapasa said.

Is he upset that Indian national broadcaster Doordarshan called Malawi one of the world's least developed countries?

"India and Malawi are friends. Lot of Indians live in Malawi and even the Indian government has apologised. So, that chapter is closed."

For an agrarian country like Malawi, the Commonwealth Games is a platform to showcase its talent and to get exposure in international sports.

A landlocked country, Malawi gained independence from Britain in 1964. Its 38-member contingent competed in netball, track and field, boxing, cycling and squash.

"It is one of the biggest competitions in the world. It is right next to the Olympics. Seventy-one countries participating in one event is no joke. It obviously provides us an opportunity to interact and learn from very elite athletes," Chapasa said.

Furthermore, it gives bright individuals from smaller countries to bag a sporting scholarship from a bigger nation; in return they pledge their sporting allegiance to that scholarship giving country.

Mwayi Kumwenda, a 20-year-old netball player, has got a scholarship from Australia.

"It is important that the individual gains. She'll have better opportunity to study further as well as hone her netball skills. This has happened just because of the Games," the chef de mission said.

And she will return home some day and can teach the youngsters the tricks of the game.

India gave financial assistance to many small countries to develop their sporting infrastructure. Malawi used the money to set up better training facilities and to take part in local competitions.

"The money was a big encouragement. That's why our contingent was so big compared to the 2006 Melbourne Games. The athletes have definitely improved over the last Commonwealth Games," Chapasa said.

Admitted to the Commonwealth in 1964, Malawi made its debut in the Commonwealth Games at the Scottish city of Edinburgh in 1970. Till date, they have bagged only three bronze medals.

But the chef de mission was positive about the future. "I hope we will bag some medals in the next Games."





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