By RONALD CHAWE –
NATIONAL rugby sevens skipper Israel Kalumba has talked up Zambia’s chances at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, saying with adequate preparations, impossible is nothing.
And Zambia Rugby Union (ZRU) General Secretary Francis Chitambo said the 15s team should deliver after the sevens recent good showings at major international events.
In an interview yesterday, Kalumba said the team was relishing making a debut at the Club Games meant for Britain and its former colonies.
The Zambian team made an historical qualification to the 2018 Australia,Gold-Coast games after taking up the second slot for the Commonwealth Games from the African Cup held in Kampala Uganda.
At the Africa Cup, Zambia finished fourth below Madagascar, Zimbabwe and winners Uganda.
But with Madagascar not part pf the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe suspended, Zambia took the second spot joining winners Uganda.
This means Zambia will be among the 16 teams at the games with Kalumba saying it will be invaluable experience for the players to face the best sevens players in the world from giants like South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand, England, Wales and the host nation.
“I am proud of this team as a captain. It is my first major qualification. I think we played great games against teams with great players. Going forward, with good preparations and motivations,we can do anything. We just want to go out there and do our best,” he said.
The Red Arrows Rugby Club captain said the sevens game in Zambia had been improving steadily under coach Musonda Kaminsa and that there was need to motivate the players to do even better.
He said the team has reached a stage where it can compete against the best teams in the world without any difficulties.
“If you look at our performances at the just ended Africa Cup, we played really good, I think we can play even better in future. We just have to play more international game to get that experience,” he said.
Kalumba said had it not been for injuries in the squad at the Africa Cup, Zambia would have made it to the HSBC Hong Kong World sevens Rugby series next year without any difficulties.
And ZRU General Secretary Francis Chitambo said the performances by the sevens team had put pressure on the 15s team to deliver.
Chitambo hopped that the Mwamba Chishimba team to be picked, after the Red Arrows Independence 15s tournament,would learn something from the sevens fairing.
“I think it will bring pressure but I think they are big enough to work under their plans and I don’t think there will be wholesale changes to the team, I am foreseeing majority of the players with experience being retained,” he said.
The 15s team is expected to host Algeria in an international rankings match at Mufulira’s Leopards Club in Mufulira on November 4 to determine next year’s rankings between the two in their newly acquired bronze bracket.