STARSÂ OF THE PAST with BENEDICT TEMBO
LEVY Chilikwela has devoted his time to fighting HIV and AIDS since retiring from the football arena in 1998.
Since 2002, Chilikwela, a former Zanaco prolific striker, has worked with different non-governmental organisations in raising awareness against HIV and AIDS.
Currently, the former towering striker, who poked in goals with his head like nobodyâ€™s business, is researcher/psychosocial counsellor at FHI360 where he has been conducting clinical research on male circumcision.
Chilikwelaâ€™s job description entails conducting social and clinical research studies with populations affected by HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics, documenting, analysis, report /article writing and disseminating as well as handling counselling services
Chilikwela was born on March 9, 1966 in Kabwe in a family of six.
The fourth in a family of six, was brought up by his mother, Iness Mushiko, who worked as a classified daily employee at Kabwe General Hospital for 25 years and retired in 1984 to go and settle in Chilikwela village in Kabwe rural.
His father died a long time ago.
He just has one surviving brother, Felix Mangwato, the district commissioner for Chibombo district. One brother who was the third born, and one sister have passed on.
The three surviving sisters, Doris Zimba Chikwampu, the second born, Majory Chilikwela, is a midwife working in Isoka, while the last born, Jane Zimba Chanda, is a nurse based in Lusaka.
Chilikwela, the Peter Crouch-like striker, was born and brought up in Bwacha township in Kabwe and grew up playing â€œichimpombwaâ€.
Chilikwela started his education at Ben Kapufi Primary School in 1974 and then went to David Kaunda Technical Secondary School from 1983 and completed Grade 12 in 1987.
Chilikwela started his soccer career in Bwacha township way back in 1974 and lived in the same neighbourhood with Timothy Mwitwa, who was younger than him.
â€œHis older brother [Davies Mwitwa] was my friend and we played komboni soccer together,â€ said Chilikwela, who was influenced to start playing soccer by his late elder brother Paul Zimba, who played for Kabwe Rangers in divisions Three and Two but a staunch Kabwe Warriors follower.
â€œ[He] took us with friends to watch games at Railway Ground [now Godfrey Chitalu Stadium] and became â€œball boysâ€ while playing for under-12 and 14 at Kabwe Warriors and enjoyed listening to commentaries by Dennis Liwewe on a Two Band radio.
â€œMy blood is still Kabwe Warriors,â€ Chilikwela brags.
The former lanky forward also played soccer at school although his mother was against the idea but perseverance kept him in the game and was selected to the Zambia Schools team where he played with the likes of Evans Sakala, Robby Malata, Moses Masuwa (late), Jani Sukali (late), Yona Mufweba, Kennedy Chola, Charles Mulubwa and others.
â€œI have played football through the ranks,â€ Chilikwela, who also played for Barclays F.C. for eight years and formed a deadly striking partnership with Dick Ntondokoso,â€ said Chilikwela.
â€œHe [Ndondokoso] encouraged me a lot and was very inspirational,â€ Chilikwela said of his former teammate who was his prefect at secondary school.
After leaving Barclays, Chilikwela joined Zanaco F.C. and played alongside Chris â€˜Super Mupikeâ€™ Sichone, Peter â€˜Chidozieâ€™ Chilinda, Chola â€œRazor Pokoâ€ Chota, James Phiri, Allan Chiluba, Allan Phiri, Goodwell Katongo, Godfrey Muyanga (all late), Desmond Mâ€™gawa, Chris â€œGazzaâ€ Tembo, Onasis Mwakapuki, George Sinyangwe, Taimu Katalayi, Hector Chisompola, Clement Chinga, Obed Buunda, George Kamanga, Ben Mwansa and Hyde Mulenga, among others.
At Barclays, Chilikwela helped the team win promotion from divisions Three to Two and One.
Barclays were a formidable side and caused upsets by knocking out big guns in cup games.
It was the same story at Sunset Stadium where Zanaco became a formidable side in the Super Division and competed for silverware while never being relegated despite earning the draw kings tag at one point.
During the seven seasons he played at Zanaco, Chilikwela was trained by coaches such as Davy Kayuma, Vincent Mandona, Obby Kapita, Dick Chama and Danny Kabwe.
He rates late Chama as the best coach he worked with at Zanaco because he was â€œcool, calm, collected and respected.
He was like a father talking to his sons with authority, with a lot of examples that were given in form of riddles. He had a sense of humour, he called a spade a spade, understood the game of football from training, pre-match, game and post-matchâ€.
The super sharp Zanaco where Chilikwela thrived had Onasis Mwakapuki, Hector Chisompola, Allan Phiri, Peter Chilinda, with Emmanuel Munaile supporting the top two with killer passes.
At the top, he enjoyed a telepathetic relationship with either Mwakapuki or Chilinda who possessed stamina while Chilikwela was intelligent on the ball.
As his form waned, Dabwitso Nkhoma, Moomba Ngâ€™andu and Kelvin Kaindu came through.
Chilikwela played about 85 percent of games during the entire seven seasons but shot to fame in the 1991 and 1992 seasons when his maturity showed.
In 1992, he scored 25 goals and was joint top scorer with Munaile
In appreciation of his skill and playing style, Mgawa nicknamed him Valderrama, after Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio, the former Colombian football player who was famous for his distinctive blonde hair, coupled with his flamboyant technique on the ball, which made him one of Colombiaâ€™s most recognisable footballers, and arguably one of the most recognisable footballers around the globe historically.
After two good seasons, Chilikwela lost form in 1993, the year when the national team perished off the coast of Libreville in Gabon and could not be considered for a place in the new Chipolopolo.
Although he has never been involved in football as a coach since his retirement, Chilikwela said he inspired a lot of young players like Dabwitso, Moomba, Kaindu, Sunday Ngoma, Sam Jere and many others â€œthat looked to us as senior players that time.â€
â€œMatimba Nkonje my young brother [first cousin] came to love football because of me. He is now football commentator and analyst,â€ Chilikwela said of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation staffer.
Against Nkana F.C., Chilikwela scored a goal he still remembers vividly.
His header beat Evans Mukotoka, the Nkana custodian, it hit the crossbar then headed again for Zanacoâ€™s memorable win over Nkana.
When it was evident that he was becoming excess at Sunset Stadium, Chilikwela, Hyde Mulenga and Ben Mwansa went to Zimbabwe in 1996 where they joined army club Black Rhinos.
When former Zamsure coach Jones Chilengi joined Hwange F.C., he invited the duo to join his new club.
Chilikwela is married to Prisca Musonda Kapuma with whom he has three children â€“ Levy junior, Prisca and Paul.
Despite being engrossed in HIV/AIDS issues, Chilikwela has never lost his love for soccer and has a burning urge to contribute to its growth.
He is eager to give back to the sport but having been away from the sport for sometime, Chilikwela says he needs to attend one coaching course to upgrade his knowledge to start mentoring players.
STARSÂ OF THE PAST with BENEDICT TEMBO