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Suzgo Nyirenda: First exclusive interview as Bullets CEO

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Nyasa Big Bullets has a new Chief Executive Officer, Suzgo Nyirenda, who was officially confirmed by the Club on Wednesday. We spoke to him in this exclusive interview and he shared his plans and vision for The People’s Team.

An experienced football administrator, who was until recently the Deputy General Secretary and Competition Manager for the Confederation of Southern African Football (COSAFA), Nyirenda previously worked at the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) as General Secretary.

He told Bullets Media that he was very excited to finally pick up a job at a Club that he has loved since he was young. Excerpts:

You have been appointed as the new Nyasa Big Bullets CEO, our reaction:

“It’s a big position, a big challenge, it’s beyond what I have been doing before. I have been CEO for FAM and Deputy CEO for COSAFA, but this is real deal. Club management is what I’ve always wanted to pursue in my life and I am really glad that I am now where I wanted to be…”

As someone who has previously worked as CEO at FAM and Deputy CEO at COSAFA, what level of experience are you bringing?

“The experience that I’ve gained working as CEO of FAM and as Deputy CEO has given me direction on how football can be run in Africa. But when I was working at FAM I realized the difficulties that that football clubs are facing in Malawi and I’m glad today that I’m going straight to a club, I want to prove what I’ve been thinking; my principles, what I have gained, the experience, the fundamentals which are used to develop a club. I have been connected, I have been part of Club Licensing Committee of CAF and I have seen how clubs in other countries operate and I would like to bring that concept. I believe Bullets is a very big brand and it’s time that Bullets should indeed be a big brand not only in Malawi but in Africa and who knows, we can also go to [the] World Club Championship and play there, it starts now. I believe Bullets already has a team which we can work together and push the team forward, so the experience that I’m bring on board is just adding value to what is already there at Bullets.”

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We have a League and a number of Cups in Malawi, but our game is not taken serious in terms of it being treated as a business, what message are you bringing to Malawians especially the corporate world?

“I will say that what Nyasa Manufacturing Company did few years ago to take over [full ownership of] this team [Bullets], that’s the right direction, that’s what we need in Malawi, because there’s no more community teams today; it’s very difficult to organize a team using the emblem “community”. So, I believe that the only way forward for Malawian football is to commercialise our teams. [Yes] it’s not easy to commercialise, particularly if you look at our economic base, but is possible. We have people who love football. I will tell you when I was at COSAFA, the body wanted every year Malawi should host the competition because the turnout of fans and everything else is really amazing and I know Bullets contribute almost 60 percent of the supporters that were watching the COSAFA tournaments and if we put our houses together, all the clubs, starting with the Super League of Malawi (which needs to be a brand), so I believe that for Malawian football to change there must be some reforms. I am not trying to change the horizon of Malawian football, but for teams like Nyasa Big Bullets, [Mighty] Wanderers, Silver [Strikers] to operate properly we need reformation at Super League. Once we have structural changes that are needed to make sure that SULOM operates properly then we have a brand as a League then we can no longer be talking about K15 million league sponsorship. If you look at Nyasa and everybody else they are pulling a lot of resources into these things, beyond the reward hereafter is, so I believe we need to have brand as a League while the rest of the cubs should follow, that’s why there’s Club Licensing, which was made so that even the League itself should be licensed and once it is it becomes easier for all of us to follow… we need to make sure that we bring money into the game so that at the end of the day it is the player who should be happy not us, we should only be used as the vehicle to make sure that the player is excited and very happy….”

You spoke about Malawians as people that love watching live football, moving to the Bullets family, what’s your message to that Bullets supporter from Nsanje to Chitipa, Nkhotakota to Mchinji?

“I know Bullets have always had that excitement of supporters [who] have been coming [to watch games in large numbers] and now there’s a challenge in terms of Covid-19 regulations which are in place. It’s now time that the [Bullets] media, the marketing team to make sure that we have what we call digitalization program in place; I know it’s difficult in Malawi, not everybody has access to Wi-Fi, access to laptops and everything, but we need to sit down and find a way. It will not be easy, but I would like to challenge the people that we are working with that it’s time that Malawi football should see difference. If it means streaming of the games, we need to do it, if it means moving away so that people can be connected, we need to engage our fans at all cost… I know Bullets have been doing it, we have Twitter, we have Facebook, the website, we can do more. We have the podcasts, we talk about streaming of the games, Bullets having its own television in future, it is possible. All these teams which are doing well today have taken that line. One day we don’t want to talk about Nyasa Big Bullets as a football club, we want to talk about Bullets as a sports club which has other sporting courts, but we need to make sure that we do it right now… we need to move Bullets forward…”

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