INITIALLY, the Zambia Boxing Federation (ZBF) planned to send a contingent of 12 boxers to the recent Congo Brazzaville boxing tournament which ran from June 17-25, but managed to send half the number.
The number of boxers was trimmed to nine from 12 and then to six because of budgetary constraints for passage and logistics in Congo. A budget of K47,000 helped ZBF to camp the boxers before their departure for the tournament.
The national boxing team entered camp on May 2, 2017 with 23 boxers, five females and 18 males. Funding for this camping was facilitated by the Ministry of Youth and Sport in conjunction with the Podium Performance Programme committee.
Of the six boxers, only light welterweight Nkhumbu Silungwe and light-heavyweight Mbachi Kaonga won bronze medals, falling pitifully short of the expectations of many boxing fans to dig gold or silver medals, the ultimate prizes.
Happily, Kaonga and Silungwe will participate in the World Championships slated for Hamburg Germany in September 2017.
As a matter of fact, if the state did not come in at the last minute, a week before the start of the tournament the trip would have collapsed.
A number of questions come to mind. First, if ZBF sent 12 boxers to the tournament, could this have improved the prospects of reaping not just bronze medals, but silver or gold?
Second, how were the boxers affected by the suspense about their trip owing to sponsorship uncertainties? In other words, were the boxers truly psychologically and mentally ready to travel after those initial doubts?
Third, how did the dropping of some boxers to six from 12 affect those who travelled? These may sound elementary questions, but I’m sure you will agree with me that in life it’s the little things that matter.
Having said that, are we to be satisfied with the performance of our boxers in Congo? Are bronze medals really worth celebrating? Some will say, yes because a bronze is better than no bronze at all.
Why am I saying this? It has something to do with benchmarking or setting standards. When you set standards you must compare yourself with the highest or best achievable.
Which reminds me of a story a friend told me. He said his employers had delayed salaries for months and one of the managers explained to him that this situation was not peculiar to that organisation; other companies were in the same boat.
The manager said at his previous organisation, workers would go for months without pay. To which my friend said, “You cannot justify delays by comparing yourselves with institutions which fail to pay on time.” In other words, the organisation should benchmark against those with the best practices, not hopeless ones.
Did our boxers really want gold or at least a silver? I know it’s not as easy as I am trying to suggest, but the point is if we aim low, we will always reap bronze or nothing at all. In others words, you reap what you sow.
If the current trend of last-minute decision making before important tournaments continues, we will be going to the tournaments just to appear in the attendance register, not to compete meaningfully or to achieve success. Is this what we want?
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