GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
AT TIMES, the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ) has performed wonders. Last week, for example, the sports mother body held a fund-raising golf tournament at Kitweâ€™s Nkana Golf Club.
NSCZ has been encouraging sports associations to be raising their own funds and reducing dependence on Government grants.
It is clear that NSCZ is also not immune to the austerity measures Government is undertaking and it has done well to â€˜look outside the boxâ€™.
While NSCZâ€™s desire is to see its affiliates become financially sustainable, it is clear that our sports associations are at different levels and asking them to raise their own funds is like trying to extract water from a stone.
That NSCZ, which itself relies heavily on Government grants, has led the way in fund-raising is indeed commendable.
NSCZ plays a critical role, being the national sports policy implementation and management agency of the Ministry of Sport.
It should thus create a basket funding from which it should be servicing deserving affiliates for them to thrive.
The Kitwe fund-raiser, led by NSCZ vice-chairman Emmanuel Katebe, is a step in the right direction because it demonstrates that the sports mother body is being practical.
NSCZ should now start holding joint fund-raisers with struggling yet viable associations as part of capacity building.
However, there is always a start and may this be the beginning of more of such initiatives to come so that dependency on state coffers can reduce.
NSCZ should open itself up and draw on the experience of businessmen cum sports administrators now involved in politics like Joe Malanji and Chingola businessman-cum-legislator Matthew Nkhuwa as it continues with fund-raising initia-tives.
Operating as a closed shop can be self-destructive, which is avoidable if helping hands are roped in.
By the way, NSCZ has also shown leadership in the manner it has intervened in the matter involving the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and its suspended vice-president Richard Kazala and committee member Blackwell Siwale.
Regarding their intervention in the ongoing FAZ saga where two executive committee members have been serving suspension for financial irregularities, NSCZ took a bold step to insist that the matter should not be tackled at the associationâ€™s emergency general meeting.
The suspension of Kazala and Siwale is something that should not be rushed through like an emergency surgery.
Agreed that justice delayed is justice denied, but the matters involved ought to be dealt with procedurally and exhaustively or allowing a full council meeting to deliberate on the issue would be skipping what can be effectively handled by a lower organ and in this case the disciplinary committee.
Understandably, it does not augur well that the number two official of the countryâ€™s number one sport should hang in suspense but it also serves as a lesson that holders of public office must stick to their job descriptions.
If the treasurer had been involved, he would have been guided by ethics of financial management and probably would not have erred in accounting.
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga is understandably under pressure to lift the ban but also he has the integrity of the association to protect.
As his general secretary Ponga Liwewe said recently: â€œFootball has rules and regulations and they need to be followed to avoid anarchy in the running of the game.â€
NSCZ therefore took the right step by ensuring that investigations are done and action taken to end the impasse that has rocked football since the revelations of financial impropriety were revealed.
However, NSCZ took too long to join the investigation.
And if NSCZ is indeed investigating, where is it investigating from?
Similarly, it has delayed in intervening in the Zambia Ladies Golf Union (ZLGU), which is currently hurting because of the alleged victimisation of some members.
The NSCZ is sitting on the appeal by one Lorna Mwenda, who has been suspended by the ZLGU, thus defranchising her leading to todayâ€™s annual general meeting.
By not attending to Mwendaâ€™s appeal, the NSCZ is seemingly taking sides and one wonders how many other appeals the sports mother body may be sitting on.
By the way, FAZ councillors deserve a pat on the back in the manner they conducted the emergency council meeting last Saturday.
For the first time in a while, there was sanity at local footballâ€™s largest assembly.
All councillors who debated did so without either being intimidated or heckled.
Supporters of some officials who came cocked up were disappointed at the turn of things because the era of heckling or being selective on who should debate is now gone.
There is going to be more sanity when the FAZ Council reduces the Electoral College to 80 from the current 345 members sending a maximum of three delegates.
This is because there will be quality since only officials from top clubs and sports associations will be attending the FAZ meetings.
Similarly, Kamanga should also work towards restoration of the privileges the Zambia Football Coaches Association and the Referees Association of Zambia enjoyed because the two, just like the sports medical practitioners, Zambia Youth Football Association and the Zambia Women Football Association, are important stakeholders in the development of football and should neither be ignored nor sidelined.
Their voting rights should be restored as well.
Well done Zesco United for raising the bar
ZESCO United have raised the bar by engaging Serbian Zlatko Krmpotic as their new coach.
They have made huge strides in continental football and the departure of coach George Lwandamina for Young Africans in Tanzania meant that they had to look for a mentor of greater pedigree, which Krmpotic, the 1982 Spain World Cup star with Yugoslavia, possesses.
Krmpotic, who was part of the 2015 TP Mazembe Champions League winning bench under head coach Patrice Carteron, meets Zescoâ€™s ambitions of reclaiming the local league championship and excelling in the 2017 Confederation Cup.
Having reached the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League in which they lost to eventual winners Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, Zesco cannot bargain for less, hence their decision to look beyond the borders for a respected trainer capable of handling the clubâ€™s well-paid stars.
Club officials appreciate that the club is now a continental brand which can only be sustained by the likes of the 58-year-old trainer, who has previously drilled the Kazakhstan national team as well as the Serbian Under-17 and Under-19 national sides.
Under the man, who has also had coaching stints in Turkey, Sweden and Greece, Zesco should continue to be a force to reckon with in Africa.
Zesco management should be commended for the decision to bring the massively experienced former Red Star Belgrade player to replace Lwandamina.
Another Super Division side, Buildcon, has also engaged Spanish coach Hicham Chazouhani Jadrane on a one-year contract.
May the 2017 season kick off.
GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO