GAME ON! with CHAPADONGO LUNGU
DID I hear Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili talk about enticing mining companies to revive sports festivals?
I have known Honourable Kambwili to be a man of action and he genuinely means well.
As the man at the heart of sports promotion and development in the country, Kambwili understands the significance of sports in the countryâ€™s development agenda.
Sports festivals were an integral part of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), which understood the essence of sports in the sector.
ZCCM used sports festivals to bond employees from various divisions because they are fun during the sports activities.
The mining conglomerate also appreciated the many other positive effects on employeesâ€™ lives as well.
Among the plethora of benefits sports have to offer is having a healthy mind.
As most sports activities involve exercise, they facilitate the soothing of the mind due to the release of endorphins – the feel-good-hormones in the body.
Mining is a hard job for everybody involved and that is why ZCCM found it wise to reduce stress among its employees and reward them with some relaxing moments.
Beyond relaxing, the employeesâ€™ immune systems were boosted, and this helped them stay healthy.
I do not want to believe that Mr Kambwiliâ€™s appeal has fallen on deaf ears because none of the mining bosses are deaf.
Perhaps, the mining companies should instead dialogue with the minister or his ministry on how best this could be done.
It is undeniable that while ZCCM had a community development arm, the current mines probably have none and may be at pains to understand the concept.
The good part is that almost all the mining companies have sustained football clubs, with Konkola Copper Mines keeping all the four â€“ Konkola Blades, Konkola Mine Police, Nampundwe and Nchanga Rangers.
This is despite all the three Super Division teams struggling to stay afloat and probably speaks volumes about KCMâ€™s handling of the three clubs but that is a subject for another day.
My appeal to minister Kambwili is that he should not give up on his advocacy for the return of sports festivals for the mines, especially that none is making losses.
The good about the mining sector is that it is not shrinking, rather it is expanding at an admirable pace, what with the impending opening of First Quantum Mineralsâ€™ Kalumbila mine in Solwezi.
In commending FQM for the sound investment in Solwezi, the mining giant should lead the way in promoting sports in my dear country.
FQM has told us all about Africaâ€™s biggest open-pit mine in Senior Chief Museleâ€™s area but nothing has been said about building a modern sports complex to be hosting sports festivals for local people there.
I am alive to the fact that FQM is sponsoring two Division One teams â€“ Kansanshi Dynamos and FQMO â€“ for which I sincerely commend them.
However, that huge investment running into billions of dollars should also be part of the efforts to resuscitate the countryâ€™s sports aspirations.
Therefore, Honourable Kambwili, keep your feet on the pedal and I am sure the Chamber of Mines will hear you out and see to it that mining companies take up their seat in sports promotion.
However, the Ministry of Sport should also keep tabs on defence and security wings to also contribute to the re-awakening of sports, especially minor ones.
It is becoming embarrassing at how the country is failing to bring medals from major sporting events such as the Olympics, Commonwealth and All-Africa Games.
At no time should the world be made to believe that a country of 13 million people is content with returning with one or no medals at all.
Something serious has gone wrong somewhere and if nothing is done, we will continue going to these competitions as braidmaids.
I challenge, on behalf of minister Kambwili, all commanders of Zambia Prisons Service, Zambia Police, Zambia Army, Zambia National Service and the Zambia Air Force to compel their sports teams to get back to townships (compounds if you wish) and villages to tap talent.
At the on-going Nanjing Youth Olympics in China, Eastern European nations are dominating the rowing-canoeing competitions.
Donâ€™t we have expert paddlers on our rivers whom we can take to such competitions?
All they need is to be trained.
Why has swimming in Zambia taken an elitist posture when there are hundreds of young people swimming in big rivers such as the Zambezi, Luapula and Kafue? These rivers are 1,000 times bigger than the swimming pools where people are minting gold.
I think leaders of the various sports associations, including the National Olympic Committee, should work with traditional leaders in talent identification.
Their royal highnesses know deserving runners, swimmers, potential boxers who just need polishing a bit and some exposure to take back Zambia to the medal brackets.
As for the defence and security wings, donâ€™t they find it offensive that their fitness programmes end up in the barracks?
What about grooming sharp shooters to compete in shooting?
I think we can do better.
GAME ON! with CHAPADONGO LUNGU