From ELIAS CHIPEPO in Gold Coast, Australia –
ZAMBIA 7s rugby team captain Israel Kalumba said playing at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games was a good experience which left the players dreaming of playing in the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series.
Kalumba said in an interview that it was never going to be easy for Zambia to play the big sides like New Zealand, Canada and Kenya because those sides play week-in and week-out in the World Series.
He said some players could have gotten intimidation playing at a big Robina Stadium in-front of a huge crowd.
“It is feels sad to lose but you have to understand that we were in a tough group. We got the exposure and motivation needed for us going forward if we are to reach their levels. We just have to work hard so that one day we can play in the World Series and compete against these big sides,” he said.
Zambia suffered a 54-0 hammering at the hands of New Zealand, who went on to win the competition after beating Fiji 14-0, then lost to Canada and Kenya by identical 47-0 scores and failed to score a point in the process.
“It was a tough game playing the likes of Australia and Canada. We were supposed to put 100 percent but we lacked of experience. Going forward we want to start playing in the World Series and we just need to work hard and believe in ourselves because that is the only thing lacking,” he said.
Coach Musonda Kaminsa said there was need for big moneys investment into rugby if players can one day compete against the World’s best.
Kaminsa, a former national rugby team player, said Zambia could not compete against the big sides that boast of professional players who also play in the World Series.
“If you see most of the players we played against- majority of them are professionals and rugby is their full time job. If Zambian rugby is to reach those levels, then you have to pump in money so that people can depend on rugby. There will be a big difference because then the players can be committed to just playing rugby than concentrating of their day jobs,” he said.
Kaminsa otherwise said the outing was a great experience for the players and it gave them the opportunity to reflect and work out on things that they needed to change to reach the levels of Australia, Canada and Kenya and start playing in the World Series.
“It was a great experience. Great opportunity for the guys to reflect and work out what we need to change,” Kaminsa said.
Kaminsa said he did not put any target for his players because he knew they were pitted in a tough group against the world’s best sides.
“It was a tough pool. We were playing with the best teams currently playing in the World Series. We just want to play well and take it to the next chapter. We’re playing against guys who play every week, every fortnight. Our boys really tried hard,” he said.