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Endorsing King Kalu

THE decision by the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to issue an endorsement letter to its former president Kalusha Bwalya to contest for an executive position at the International Football Federation (FIFA) is highly commendable.
On Saturday last week, the association decided to support Great Kalu’s nomination to be part of the top brass of the world’s soccer umbrella body.
Its general secretary Ponga Liwewe told scribes that the letter has been sent to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and called on all Zambians to rally behind the only man from Southern Africa to have received Africa’s highest soccer honour. Mr Bwalya was voted Africa’s player of the year in 1988.
While I am aware that I do not normally write on sport, I also realise that I am a journalist who has a tacit social contract to advance the public interest. And the issue at hand is of interest to the public.
Thanks FAZ for endorsing Zambia’s most prominent soccer envoy to the rest of the world. Your decision was wise.
As we are all aware, Kalusha is a member of the executive committee of CAF, a great feat for any African soccer administrator.
Kalusha has done Zambia and Africa proud both as a player and soccer administrator. This could be seen from the appreciation he has received within the country and the African continent.
As a man who has spent all his life in soccer, he has definitely contributed significantly to the development of the sport at home and abroad.
Many African players and other stakeholders of soccer have befriended him because of what he represents in the sport – rare talent and understanding of the sport, as a player, coach and administrator.
Great Kalu’s impact has transcended national and continental barriers. As a player, he played on four continents. His savvy of football has seen him run FAZ for eight years, during which period Zambia saw an unprecedented revival in domestic and international football.
At the global level, Kalusha has attracted the respect of both the high and mighty and fans through his talent and hard work during his playing days.
In fact, in the mid-90s, the man was ranked 16th in the world. When I checked the list of 23 nominees’ for this year’s Ballon d’Or, there was no small name. None of the 23 plays for a small club. In short, they are all big names in football playing in Europe’s top teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid.
To be ranked hundredth in the world, you must be a very good player. Of course, because just five teams in one league such as the English Premier League can produce 100 top quality players. Now, there are more than five teams in such leagues.
What I am saying is that you have thousands of players who are top quality in Europe alone and I know that other continents can also boast of great players. So, for one to be ranked 16 in the whole world is a legendary feat.
That is why I commend FAZ. The association should be praised for acknowledging Kalusha place in African and world football and the immense contribution he has made to the sport.
Kalu’s peers in football have been the likes of Romario of Brazil (1994 world player of the year). And he has a rich network of friends and colleagues across the world.
At home, it has been under his administration that Zambia has realised one of its most serious dreams – the historic winning of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 in Gabon. As a player it narrowly eluded him, but he got it as FAZ president. And for that Zambia is grateful to him and all who worked with him in strategising the victory.
Zambia appreciates Kalusha and this was seen by tiring long queues they formed all over the country to catch a glimpse of the Africa Cup.
He is an authority in football with deep understanding of African and world football, and that is part of the reason I commend FAZ for endorsing him.
He is also a man with a great personality and strong and tested leadership qualities.
Thank you FAZ for endorsing one of Africa’s greatest soccer icons, not just for his legacy as a player but also his demonstrable and inspiring leadership qualities. Merci beaucoup!
The author is Zambia Daily Mail senior sub-editor.