RISINg STARS with DIANA MUTAKAFIMBO
RARELY have Zambian athletes endeavored to pursue a professional career in any other sports discipline apart from football.
Majority of Zambian sport exports are footballers, probably because it is one of the highly paid and most popular sport in the world.
The country has however recorded quite a fair number of athletes in different disciplines like golf, chess, track and field among others with most of them being students that are using sport to further their education.
Chess grand master (GM) Amon Simutowe, who has settled in the United States of America is one of the athletes outside football that Zambia has exported.
Others include golfer Melisa Nawa, who is currently at Alabama State University on a golf scholarship, 400m runner Saviour Kombe is in Mauritius at a High Performance Centre, among others.
Runners Gerald Phiri and Prince Mumba are in the United State of America.
Adding up to the many exports is Martin King Charlie Zulu, who is pursuing his volleyball professional career in Botswana.
Three years ago when he started playing volleyball, the 19-year old towering attacker had no idea he would turn professional.
He is the older of the two boys born on April 26, 1995 and raised up by his mother after the death of his father almost 10 years ago.
Martin was nine years old when his father died.
Martin completed grade 12 at Munali Boys High School in 2012 and intends to study civil engineering.
â€œI am determined and passionate about sport especially volleyball and would like to study abroad on a sports scholarship as well as play professional volleyball,â€ he says.
Martin was inspired by his two aunties Priscilla Mphanza Kandira and Felistus Mphanza Mbebeta to start playing volleyball.
Both played for City of Lusaka Volleyball Club which also happens to be Martinâ€™s local club.
He started playing volleyball when he was at secondary school in 2011 and rose from a nondescript to a dependable captain of the school team.
He captained the school team in 2012 and steered his side to win the provincial championship that eventually accorded him a chance to captain the provincial squad.
Martin led the Lusaka Province team to Mansa for the inter-provincial championship where Lusaka won bronze but his exceptional show granted him a position in the national team that represented the country at the 2012 Council of Southern African School Sports Association (COSASSA) games in Namibia.
His leadership qualities made him captain the national schoolsâ€™ team in Namibia where Zambia managed a silver medal in volleyball.
Martin was also part of the Zambian team at the just-ended Confederation of Universities and Colleges Sports Association (CUCSA) games in Lusaka.
During Zambiaâ€™s campaign for a slot at the 2014 Volleyball World Championship which is currently being played in Poland, Martin was a regular in the qualifiers with Zambia topping the group in the Zone Six preliminary round in Malawi.
The team later played in the knockout round in Botswana where Zambia qualified as runners up to the African Championship which was the final World Cup qualifier.
Unfortunately, Zambia failed to make a World Cup berth having been pitted against champions Egypt, Cape Verde and Botswana.
Martin found himself playing for Botswanaâ€™s Prisons VI because of his impressive performances during international competitions.
â€œSomeone who saw me playing in the 2013 Club Championship in Botswana told Prisons VI about me because they wanted an outside attacker. I showed my interest to join the team and I went through trials,â€ he says.
Playing in Botswana is not the ultimate goal for the enthusiastic attacker, he intends to spread his professional career to Asia, Europe and the United States of America.
Brazilâ€™s Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho popularly known as Giba is Martinâ€™s role model.
â€œHe is an outside attacker and skillful. He can pass well, block and aggressive attack as an outside attacker and his back role attack is excellent, in simple words…he has a full package and I want to reach that level,â€ he says.
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RISINg STARS with DIANA MUTAKAFIMBO