OOTBALL is seen as a unifying factor in Zambia and to some extent almost treated like a religion.
From time immemorial, Zambians speak the same language whenever the national team is engaged in an international match.
Apart from the senior national team, even junior and women teams have managed to some extent managed to unite the nation by churning out some impressive results.
Sadly though, only the senior national team seems to attract the attention of both Government and the corporate world in terms of support.
The task of sponsoring the junior and women teams is solely left to the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to sort out. One need not to be reminded that the same neglected teams are the ones that have so far been managing to qualify to their respective World Cup finals while it remains a somewhat far-fetched dream for the ‘loved’ senior men’s squad to attain those levels. You wonder why these teams fail to attract sponsors despite doing the nation proud. Probably FAZ has not done enough to market these teams as a product or maybe the corporate world just want to be associated with the Chipolopolo.
Already the Under-17 women’s team will be flying the Zambian flag at the FIFA Costa Rica 2014 World Cup finals next month. This Under-17 team scored a first by becoming the only women squad in Zambian history to qualify to the World Cup and no doubt Albert Kachinga’s lasses deserve support from all stakeholders. It is however gratifying that Republican Vice-President, Guy Scott and Sports Minister, Chishimba Kambwili have taken a leading role in wooing the corporate world to help out on this assignment. Because of the help that has started trickling into the team’s coffers, the squad will even set up a training camp in Florida, United States of America this month to fine-tune before heading to Costa Rica for the World Cup.
I can only hope more sponsors could come on board to assist this team before the World Cup matches kick-off since the nation’s pride will be at stake.
The similar kind of support should be extended to the senior women’s team that will be taking on Tanzania on Friday in the race for a place at the 2014 African Championship in Botswana. Soon the Under-20 men’s team will engage in the Senegal 2015 African Youth Championship qualifying campaign with the Under-17 squad also fighting for qualification in the Niger 2015 Under-17 African Championship.
These teams are capable of achieving more for Zambia with a bit of support from the corporate world. I am therefore appealing to the corporate world to adopt some these teams just like our colleagues in South Africa are doing it. Let us support all our national teams for the benefit of football growth in Zambia.
Nkana will today open their campaign in the 2014 CAF Champions League against Mbabane Swallows in Swaziland and I wish them the best of luck as they try to hoist the Zambian flag higher in African football. E-mail:email@example.com