Police officer in poor Malawi district builds sports complex to ‘change lives’


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For the past decade, our observer Kanduwa Sande has worked hard to promote the sport in Machinga, a district in the southern region of Malawi, by building a sports complex which now includes various facilities, including an athletics track, a field basketball court and a long jump pit. Kanduwa, who also works as a police officer, is hopeful that sport will help foster development, reduce crime and allow young people to thrive in his community.

Kanduwa reached out to us on Facebook to share his story. He told us that he has been working at the Machinga sports complex every day since 2011. The land is owned by the government and for a long time it was in a state of exhaustion. The district commissioner authorized Kanduwa to renovate the land ten years ago and since then he has completely transformed the space.

“Sport is a catalyst for development”

I get up every day at 4.30am so that I can do some chores before I start my day as a police officer and I am also there during my lunch breaks and in the evening.

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I have built many sports facilities from scratch. I use a point, a hoe, a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a rake. I started with the race track and then built seats for spectators to watch. It’s a success, so I decided to expand my project to a complex by building volleyball, netball and basketball courts. I then built a soccer field, a tennis court, a long jump pit and a children’s corner with games for them.

The most difficult facilities to build were the athletics track and the football field. For the trail I had to dig and remove a lot of soil and remove tree trunks. The football field was also difficult as I had to tilt 105 meters long and 68 meters wide myself with only a wheelbarrow. It was taking a long time.

I really hope I can make the facility even bigger because it has so much more potential.




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I hope that one day the facilities I have built will be used for major regional and international tournaments, which in turn will boost the local economic fabric and create long-term jobs for our community.

Sport is a catalyst for development because athletes are healthier and more active. It also prevents young people from participating in harmful activities – they will instead come to my field to play sports. Sport is aimed at young people in a language they understand. It is very powerful.

“The facilities are accessible to all”

We also spoke to Merry Kholopa, Primary Education Advisor, about the impact of the facilities on children in Machinga District.

There are inadequate sports facilities and qualified coaches in the majority of educational institutions in our district and in Malawi more generally. Kanduwa’s goal has been to turn this situation around in our community, he has worked there every day, he has done an amazing job so far.

In many cities of our country, sports facilities are only there for the privileged and those who attend private schools. But the facilities that Kanduwa has built are accessible to everyone. This is important, because sport can help lift many people in Malawi out of poverty.

There are also other advantages. Sport is an effective means of promoting education and health. It is important that students can run and use their bodies instead of sitting all day.

Young people who participate in sport learn important life skills such as team building, communication and leadership. This not only improves their overall well-being, but for high school students it also qualifies them better for the job market.

Observers © Observers

Fields help develop talent at the local level

The Kanduwa Pitches have helped many young people in Machinga to show their talent and unlock their potential. Some of the athletes he has coached have won medals in regional and national tournaments. The observer team spoke with Afali Gomiwa, who won a bronze medal in the 400m track event at the 2019 Malawi National Open Championship.

I ran on the athletics track every day after school. I could not have played at the national level without the track built by Kanduwa. It is a privilege in our neighborhood. Not only did Kanduwa build the grounds, but he also trained me and wanted me to thrive. It changed my life.

Kanduwa Sande and his medal-winning athletes
Kanduwa Sande and his medal-winning athletes © Observers
Sande Kanduwa
Sande Kanduwa © Observers

Thanks to their ability to bring together and promote inclusion, sport is mentioned in the United Nations Agenda for sustainable development: it contributes to peace, the empowerment of women and young people as well as the achievement of of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of health, education and social cohesion.


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