By SHAMAOMA MUSONDA –
THE Zambian football family come together in Kabwe today at the Mulungushi University for the non-elective annual general meeting (AGM) where the challenges of mandatory Club Licensing is top on everyone’s mind.
While Club Licensing will be a matter for deliberations, there are other worries about the uncertainty surrounding the national team coaching job which was vacated by Frenchman, Hervé Renard.
Patrice Beaumelle remains the coach but he is only fulfilling his contract where he was an assistant until July this year.
According to a Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) circular on the AGM, the normal business will prevail with the president’s report and general secretary’s report as well as financial report on the list.
However, it is the any other business that is expected to bring out pertinent issues especially about Club Licensing and how compliant the Premier league teams are to this issue.
The Club Licensing has some governance issues which clubs need to fulfil with some requirements bringing cost implications on the teams that are actually struggling to make ends meet.
Among the requirements of Club Licensing is the need for each club to have a fully fledged secretariat (office complex) with staff to handle various obligations including finances and media matters.
FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya is expected to explain that Zambia is actually behind in implementing this Club Licensing, no thanks to the administrative squabbles that engulfed Zambian football two years ago.
He is expected to state on how beneficial this will be especially in the long-run and in making the clubs self-sustainable, but it is the pace at which it has been thrust on the clubs remains a challenge.
One critical requirements of Club Licensing says “One-Sponsor, One Club”
And one sponsor that pops quickly in the minds of all is the mining giant Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) which has three teams among the 16 clubs in the Zambian elite league in form of Nchanga Rangers, Konkola Blades and Konkola Mine Police.
As if that is not enough, they also have Nampundwe playing in FAZ Division One South and is a strong contender for promotion to the KCM-FAZ Premier Division.
KCM’s contingent of teams are not the only ones with this predicament as a bigger problem lies with the services teams dotted all across the country and in the FAZ structure.
But with the FAZ implementation structure saying all Premier Division teams need to be compliant this year and Division One sides to be up to scratch in 2015, the Division Two sides are getting a relief until 2016.
At the last council meeting held in Kabwe, FAZ general secretary, George Kasengele had indicated that FAZ would write FIFA to seek guidance on how to proceed in view of Zambia’s historical case.
Defunct mining conglomerate, ZCCM used to sponsor as many as eight teams in the top division with each of the following in the Copperbelt region having at least three teams in the lower division.
FAZ though argues that the one-sponsor, one team policy will ensure better sponsorship to teams as finances will be pooled in one area and better transparency avoid match fixing temptations.
Also clubs needing to be established as limited companies have companies will help make the clubs financially stronger as they will have the ability attract more sponsors.
Zesco United has been loud about meeting all requirements for Club Licensing but the rest of the premier clubs have been audibly silent.
There will also be reports on progress on Zambia’s bid to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as well as the 2017 Africa Youth Championships (under-20) which Zambia will host.
Aside the Club Licensing and future prospects, there will be need to talk about the performance of junior teams (under-20 and under-17) which were disappointing in the last year.
One person who will enjoy her time in the limelight will be Lenny Nkhuwa whose tenure as women football affairs chairperson saw Zambia qualify to the first-ever FIFA under-17 Women World Cup, the first appearance by a local women team at whatever level.
At the Costa Rica Under-17 Women’s World Cup games, Zambia finished off with a win over the hosts where Grace Chanda stood out after two successive losses to Italy and Venezuela, respectively.
While this one is expected to be one of the most peaceful FAZ council meetings in years, the life ban slapped on administrator-cum-coach, Simataa Simataa, three days before this meeting leaves a sour taste about the meeting.
Whether Simataa, a long time critic of the present executive administration, has been handed a ban on genuine causes or meant to bar him from this meeting remains to be seen.
At least Kalusha will parade the COSAFA Castle Cup which Zambia won at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola last year.