BEING talented is a true gift but being multi-talented seems to be more of a hustle than a gift.
Zambia has in the past produced some multi-talented sports personalities and one name that stands out among many others is Hilda Edwards, who won Zambian sportswoman of the year both as a squash player and a golfer.
There have been some more in the past like Mwenya Matete who starred both as a footballer and as a basketball player at a high level while Ashios Melu was Zambia Footballer-of-the-Year, first as a striker and then as a defender.
And then more recently we have a surge in these multi-talented youngsters who double in sports and one name that is on everyone’s lips is Kabange Mupopo who captained the women national football team and is Africa’s main star in the 400m race.
The women football team also has Barbara Banda who is also an accomplished boxer with Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions.
It is not too long ago that Mupopo was in a quagmire over picking which sport she would take up as she was needed in both football and athletics and it looks like she has finally gone the athletics way, though reluctantly.
Now we have Adrian Chama, the Green Buffaloes football club and Chipolopolo defender, and also a linchpin in the national Futsal team which later this week takes part in the Africa Futsal Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The national Futsal team leaves for South Africa on Tuesday for the Africa Cup and Chama is still not in camp but very busy with his club Buffaloes which was yesterday playing Nchanga Rangers in Chingola.
His delayed arrival in camp was because he was involved with the Chipolopolo during the two 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Congo Brazzaville.
With Buffaloes having a less than perfect start to the season, Chama’s need in the team becomes increasingly vital and his release to the national Futsal team looks increasingly slim.
National Futsal team coach Augusto Lucio is now worried about the availability of Chama and says it has made it difficult for him to plan his team tactics and that it is even more annoying that a letter was sent to his club three days ago and no reply had come.
Meanwhile Buffaloes claim they have not seen that letter.
It is such hustles that make multi-skilled players feel like it is a problem to have more skill than others.
The story of Mupopo’s indecision on what she really wants between athletics and football brings out the point where Zambian athletes need to be managed at a tender age and given direction on which sport will best work for them.
Proper sports managers have previously told youngsters like Samuel Matete that ‘despite you looking like a good footballer, you will make it better as an athlete’ and we went on to produced one of Africa’s greatest athlete ever.
That is an area which is lacking in Zambian sport now and people handling these sportsmen at a tender age do not have that skill and that is how come we are seeing these youngsters reach national team level with passion attached to more than one skill.
The biggest problem with trying to handle both is that training these days is optimised and the skills Chama needs to develop for George Lwandamina and Bilton Musonda on a grass football pitch will differ from those Lucio will want on the indoor hard court.
The doubling will first of all inhibit a specific development so Chama, like Mupopo and Barbara should chose one sport and separate ‘sentiments from business’ or rather passion from what will bring them money.
As Chama remains undecided, I am decided about wishing the national Futsal team all the best at the Africa Cup of Nations where Zambia plays its first game on April 15 (Friday) against Tunisia before taking on Mozambique and then hosts South Africa in group A.