Football

Losing the plot

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
THERE is hyperactivity among Super Division clubs as the 2018 season kick-off draws closer. Some clubs have acquired foreign players while others have set base in foreign countries to prepare for what should be one of the most competitive campaigns in years.
Every club is doing something however small to ensure when all is said and done, their name is etched on the 2018 football calendar, of course for a good reason.
But while all effort to prepare adequately is appreciated, I am beginning to wonder why some teams choose certain destinations for preparations.
Red Arrows are in Spain, Zesco United were in South Africa, Green Buffaloes went to Botswana and Buildcon, among others, chose Zimbabwe.
There is absolutely nothing wrong to prefer any place, but any choice must be backed by a good reason. It’s more than just about having money and wanting it to circulate in a foreign country; it’s about having perfect preparations that could catapult a team’s performance to heights never reached before.
The basic question is: Why choose a particular destination? There is an aspect of motivation which Zambia Air Force Commander Eric Chimese talked about. By the way, I was impressed with Chimese’s technical understanding of football; he raised so many technical issues about players and the coaching staff that he almost ‘elevated’ himself to the position of technical director.
Let me address the broader aspect about why teams choose certain places for their pre-season training. First, the place picked should have good training facilities and second, and perhaps more important, there should be commercial value derived from such a place.
Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, AC Milan will choose to go to China or the United States of America for commercial reasons. They do not go to such places because they want to climb the Great Wall or meet Donald Trump but because of the commercial value attached to such.
Manchester United, for instance, has about 660 million fans of which a fifth or so are from China. So, China is a good market for them.
They go to such places to sell their teams’ brands and grow the numbers of supporters and, therefore, enhance business with all their kit suppliers. That is the primary reason.
So, why do our teams go to Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe? It’s basically to while away time and pretend to be preparing for the new season.
What local clubs need to do is visit rural districts such as Kasama, Mansa, Mongu, Mwinilunga, Mununga and the like to recruit talent and grow their fan base.
That is how Red Arrows, Green Buffaloes, Mufulira Wanderers, Nchanga Rangers and others found some of the most prolific players to have graced the Zambian league. Need I mention Obby Kapita, Francis Kajiya, Jani Simulambo, Freddie Mwila and many others?
By recruiting Zambian footballers in rural areas, the local game was getting a development push unlike now when some clubs can feature an all-foreign starting 11.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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