Windhoek –Malawian stars Tabitha and Temwa Chawinga are putting their stamp on the Chinese Women's Super League with their stellar performances for Jiangsu and Wuhan respectively.
Temwa (24) shrugged off the lengthy lay-off because of the COVID-19 lockdown to sore eight goals in August to propel Wuhan to the top of the Super League.
And sibling rivalry lit up the title run in last Sunday when Jiangsu and Wuhan clashed in the decider. Temwa put Jiangsu ahead after 27 minutes, helping her team win 4-0 and secure the club's maiden Chinese Women's Super League crown.
As children, the sisters – who come from a family of five daughters - played football with boys, with their father’s encouragement.
At age 13, Tabitha took the first steps to becoming a professional footballer when she signed for Lilongwe-based DD Sunshine.
It was at her recommendation that the club added Temwa to its books in 2013.
"I did this not because she is my sister, but because I know her potential. I wanted Temwa to try her luck with a big club where she could improve, both mentally and technically." Tabitha told FIFA.com.
Tabitha moved to Sweden’s third tier Krokon/Dvarsatts IF in 2014, becoming the first Malawian female to play for a European club. The next season she moved to Second Division side Kvarnsvedens IK and scored 43 goals, leading the team to the league title.
The move to China came in 2017. Like a good big sister, she recommended to Kvarnsvedens IK that little sister Temwa would be a fitting replacement.
She was not wrong.
Temwa, scored an astonishing 55 goals in 57 appearances in two seasons with the Swedish club. Sure enough, Temwa, now aged 22, followed Tabitha to China in early 2020.
Tabitha has been enjoying her time in China, where she was named 2019 Player of the year before winning the Super League title this year in addition to finishing the season with the Golden Boot.
The Malawi national team could still turn out to be the biggest winner in all this.
In the recent Olympic qualifiers, the sisters combined to score 10 goals over two legs to complete a 14-1 demolition of Mozambique.
However, Malawi lost to Kenya in the subsequent qualification around and didn’t make it for Japan 2020. (The Olympics were provisionally postponed to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Despite the loss, national team captain Tabitha is optimistic of a bright future for Malawi.
"It was our first time to participate in Olympic qualifying and (that) gave us precious international experience. Malawi have never qualified for the Women's World Cup … It represents our hopes and if all of us keep working hard, we can reach the level needed and realise our dreams." Tabitha said.