GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
THE start of the New Year is associated with resolutions, to do better, to achieve.
This is what I expect our sports associations and clubs to do as 2017 dawns today.
The just-ended year, 2016, was one of the worst in the history of Zambian sports and it is as well that it came to pass at midnight last night.
Key among the indicators to a bad year were inter and intra sports wrangles which resulted in some sports associations going to court in a bid to solve their problems.
The rate at which wrangles took place points to lack of conflict resolution within the associations, including the lack of independent arbiters.
Our envoys to the Rio Olympics in Brazil returned blank while the Chipolopolo failed to qualify for the 2017 African Nations Cup starting in Gabon this month.
This scenario places premium on Sports Minister Moses Mawere, the National Sports Council of Zambia and the National Olympic Committee to ensure that inter and intra sports wrangles are minimised while performance of individual athletes and clubs is enhanced.
Mawereâ€™s ministry must ensure that the treasury makes available funds for sports development at all levels, including other initiatives for fundraising.
As the lead agent, the sports ministry should be pro-active in ensuring that athletes are well prepared for local and international competitions.
The NSCZ, on the other hand ,should be the implementing body and monitoring sports development programmes country-wide.
Most sports associations are currently facing varied challenges from lack of finances to lack of capacity among office bearers to perform adequately.
I am aware that the NSCZ has gone out of its way to help build the capacity of sports associations by offering them office space at the National Sports Development Centre in Lusaka.
However, most sports associations are run by volunteers who work elsewhere. In short, very few sports associations can afford to engage full-time office-bearers unless the NSCZ is willing to pick up the cost of paying them as well as subsidiSing their transport and communication costs.
Therefore, the NSCZ has a huge task to ensure that sports associations are run efficiently, not through disciplinary hearings or threatening those that fail to affiliate.
In these harsh economic times, the NSCZ may even go out of its way by mobilising resources from the private sector or Government to help associations that are financially limping, starting by paying for their affiliation fees to organising tournaments and paying subscription fees to their international bodies.
The legal sub-committee of the NSCZ should scrutinise all the constitutions of sports associations to see if they are in tune with their international bodies.
If there is a skill the NSCZ seriously needs is rapport with all associations for a win-win situation.
At no time should Zambia Amateur Athletics Association president Elias Mpondela feel like he is being hunted down by NSCZ board chairperson Mwamba Kalenga.
Neither should Kalenga feel intimidated by Mpondela through name-dropping.
Even Zambia Amateur Boxing Federation president Thomas Chileshe feels that he deserves respect from Kalenga because as far as he is concerned, he still has the mandate to run the affairs of amateur boxing in the country.
Chileshe also feels, and rightly so, that he was unopposed at the annual general meeting which was scuttled by court action following a petition by the Midlands Amateur Boxing Association when their preferred candidate Major Jack Mwale was declared ineligible to contest the polls.
Friction witnessed last year in ZAAA and ZABF should not have gone to the courts had the NSCZ intervened by offering to mediate among the warring factions.
That is if both parties were going to accept the NSCZ as being an independent mediator in the talks.
Kalenga is undoubtedly one of the wisest men in the sports fraternity but he has to embrace dialogue and not punitive actions as a way of resolving issues in sports associations.
He has to understand that maturity does not come overnight. Most of the leaders of sports associations are not mature, so he must treat them like his own biological children for them to start appreciating his counsel.
It is not too late to organise reconciliatory talks between NSCZ and aggrieved sports associations on one hand and the sports ministry on the other.
The NOC has a huge role to play in ensuring that our athletes are adequately prepared for Olympic and Commonwealth Games, among other high-profile sports competitions.
I think the NOC should include talent tapping like it is doing at the National Olympic Development Centre in Lusaka.
It should advocate construction of more of such facilities in every province to capture every budding talent.
Beyond this, let it expand its training programmes so that as many officials benefit so that the country has a cadre of competent and committed administrators.
For everything our country aspires for in 2017, we should start with attainable resolutions and set targets.
We need institutions such as NSCZ, NOC and OYDC to track what we will set out to achieve beyond next year.
GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO