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New Constitution puts Zambian football back on track

FINALLY, the much-awaited Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) constitution was adopted on Saturday during the annual general meeting at Government Complex.
The AGM will go down in the annals of local football history as one which put football back on track after reducing the electoral college from 350 to only 80.
This is a landmark in Zambian football because it was difficult to discuss anything meaningful in an assembly of 360 individuals, most of whom were either rabble-rousing or dosing.
Majority of the councillors were going to meetings with begging bowls as they had to be bused to and from their bases, accommodated and fed.
That is now in the past. FAZ now has the greatest opportunity to make football a business. The 380 councillors who attended council meetings did not allow to make football a business.
The 80 who now make up the new electoral college are the board members of FAZ who should help the local soccer governing body run soccer as a business.
From now on, the FAZ Council will be business-minded and the expectation is that the 80 will not be going to Football House with begging bowls but with business ideas.
The restructuring of the league should bring benefits to the game because the 40 teams – 20 in the elite league and the 20 nation-wide Division One- should start making business decisions.
The biggest is the Super Division, the equivalent of the English Premier League (EPL), the world’s best league.
Events of the last three days in which three Super Division clubs, City of Lusaka, Power Dynamos and Nkana, unveiled kit sponsorship is evidence that the cream of the Zambian league can attract investments.
Even the influx of foreign players on the Zambian soccer landscape is a testimony that our league has become attractive.
We expect stadiums to be full this season as fans will be eager to see what the foreign players have brought to our game.
And filling stadiums translates into more money for FAZ, which should benefit from the league levy which has eluded it for a long time now.
The trademark of football in the country belongs to FAZ and it must show through royalties paid to the soccer body.
Every league match this season should be business because football is a brand, just like we have seen in the EPL, where no team plays in an empty stadium.
Why shouldn’t we?
Even the lower division clubs in the regions who supported the reduction of the electoral college are not sidelined from helping the game to grow.
If anything, the premium is even huge because they will have to brainstorm soccer development during their regional assemblies to be set up soon.
Of course, this will not come overnight but the outcome of Saturday’s AGM is just the beginning of the journey to making our game business-oriented.
This calls for a change of mindset on the part of staff at Football House.
It is unacceptable, for instance, for the AGM, which should have started at 10:00 hours to start at 13:00, hours.
Had the councillors not been business-minded, the meeting would have ended at mid-night but it concluded on time, 18:00 hours.
There is no time for the staff at the secretariat to be idling or warming chairs because the AGM was the turning point and all structures – investment, development, business and technical – should be set in motion starting this week.
Passing the constitution is one thing and actualising it is another.
Just like the national constitution, there are things which should make it work and the secretariat staff should be on their toes to start implementing it.
With 20 teams apiece in the Super Division and Division One, we should see the making of the Premier Soccer League independent of FAZ.
The PSL’s responsibility will be to manage the league and market it while FAZ will concentrate on running the national teams.
Super Division clubs, especially the ‘Big 10’, should have more say on how the game should be  run, including participating in negotiations for sponsorship of the league and cup competitions.
The ‘Big 10’ are Mufulira Wanderers (49 honours with nine league titles), Nkana (42 with 12 league titles), Kabwe Warriors (34 with 5 league titles), Power Dynamos (29 with six league titles), Green Buffaloes (23), Zanaco (16 with 7 league titles), Zesco United (16 with five league titles), Nchanga Rangers (10 with two league titles), Red Arrows (nine with one league title) and City of Lusaka (six).
So far, the game is on the right track if only the executive can supervise secretariat staff in implementing the new constitution by coming up with guidelines.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.