IT was just a matter of time before the decision by the Ministry of Sports to sponsor all sports associations backfired, with coffers running dry.
In as much as the move was welcomed to help ailing associations host and make international trips, sadly some federations took advantage of this gesture to plunder the national treasury to fatten their pockets and create fake tournaments just to take holidays outside the country.
On a positive note, a lot of sports associations benefitted and some even rewarded government by winning medals while the same cannot be said about others who went in the unsavoury name of opportunism with no interest in the tournament their athletes took part in.
Now we are told the budget has been exhausted at a crucial time when sports associations need to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Furthermore, associations like the Zambia Hockey Association face the prospect of a ban and a fine should the team fail to travel to South Africa for the Olympic qualifiers.
And as ZHA president Hazel Kennedy said, they had been assured by government of accommodation and logistical support while the association was tasked to find transport-which was done.
It is sad that we have reached this embarrassing position with associations having to miss important outings which may dearly cost the country.
Lessons should be learnt by the ministry on the need to prioritize assignments and not just have a wholesale funding policy for any tournament which officials used to abuse and embezzle funds at the expense of other associations with well-meaning engagements.
Associations should start finding ways of raising their own funds with the government only coming in to complement a certain percentage provided something has been raised by these sports mother bodies.
The trend to fully sponsor associations brought with it a culture of laziness from these officials who could not even raise a Ngwee towards their trip knowing very well government would fatten their accounts.
Let’s associations work hard by coming up with initiatives that should generate revenue like they promise in their campaign manifestos unlike solely relying on the government to host or foot their travel for tournaments.
To put it simply, sports associations must be self-sustaining which is a pre-requisite for transparency and credibility of any well-meaning sports mother body.
A lot of unknown associations got registered because people got wind of the soft point at the ministry to get funding for whatever outing was presented which was wrong and detrimental to the development of sports in the country.
Moving forward especially next year, let associations provide calendars and budgets for their outing against how much they intended to raise before government folks out any ngwee.
Doing so will undoubtedly end this trend of associations creating ghost tournaments or inflating their budgets just to milk the ministry and fatten their wallets.
It is my sincere hope that the ZHA manages to make the trip to avoid sanctions and if my memory serves me right, this is one sport that once brought us a medal at the Youth Olympic Games!
Have a wonderful sporting weekend and let’s enjoy watching the Zambia International Rally since the impasse in the Zambia Motor Sport Association seems resolved for now.
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