THE performances of South Africa, Morocco and Nigeria are glaring indications that Zambia needs to seriously invest in women’s football for them to reach the standards of their fellow African teams that continue to make headlines at the ongoing Australia/New Zealand 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A lot of applause has been given to the team after beating Costa Rica 3-1 to sign off with a win but looking at the competition levels, it can
be labelled as a scandal to applaud our Copper Queen’s performance but again it was the first time and such is expected.
With our Copper Queens now following proceedings from the comfort of their homes alongside Brazil, Germany, and Argentina, there is a need for those entrusted with running our women’s game to start planning for the future now.
There is something that the likes of Morocco, Nigeria and Banyana Banyana are doing for their game to reach this far in the competition.
Their players are now assured of pocketing US$60,000 for the knockout stage which is big money for players like ours who come from leagues that pay peanuts-though some rarely even see those nuts.
Playing at a high-level competition has shown that one needs serious preparation if teams are to reach far and win the ultimate prize.
The competition will continue getting harder as women’s football evolves and there is a need for Zambia, through our Football Association of Zambia to ensure our team does not lag behind especially since all teams that we will be playing will be motivated and aiming to beat a team that was at the World Cup.
Morocco lost 6-0 and everyone laughed at them that they had broken Zambia’s losing run of 5-0 but the Arabs dusted themselves off, changed some tactics here and there and improved in the next game beating South Korea then stunned Colombia.
Who could have thought such was possible after that 6-0? For the Zambian lasses, it looked like the game plan remained the same while our colleagues changed tactics and the same could be said about South Africa who lost the first game then drew and finally managed a win.
It is therefore important for our players to realise that they have not yet reached the apex of their careers despite playing at the World Cup because they have great potential to do much more with good guidance from the touchlines.
Yes, for now, we can toast the win over Costa Rica but we seriously need to reflect on how best we can improve our game because applauding such an achievement when our fellow African teams continue making headways at the competition is somewhat, to an extent, worrying.
It is not wrong to be happy but a critical analysis will show that Zambia is far off from being challenging at the global stage.
For now, the girls can enjoy the US$30,000 from FIFA for the group stage exit plus whatever government will top up but thereafter what next?
It is time to find a sponsor for the women’s league and stop running it as a social event.
With sponsorship, the league must become competitive with something worthy for the players to look forward to at the end of the campaign, including the sponsors who pump in a lot and teams must ensure not to disappoint them because they too have to harvest something at the end of the day.
Wishing you a wonderful sporting weekend and let’s interact via email on eliaschipepo@gmail. com