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PATSON Phiri.

Nkana’s fight for big name

PATSON PHIRI
NKANA Football Club has one of the most robust soccer histories since its inception during the days of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) .

Nkana are the club is the biggest in terms of support in the country by sympathisers but their detractors argue that being historically rich does not make a team big.

There is something missing at Nkana if the financial package being shared by the sponsors is anything to go with.
At the beginning of the current season, sponsors announced a whopping $179,000 or about K1.7 million in trio-corporate sponsorship package for the 2016 season.
Red Metal Mining contributed a total of $110,000. As main kit sponsors, they have the company name in front of the jersey, together with the team sponsor, Mopani Copper Mines (MCM).
But the club lacks some technical additives that should resonate the club with its big name. Instead, Nkana supporters have been left thanking their past glory and using it to claim that they are a big team. Others even argue that Nkana is the epicentre of Zambian football.
This is one claim I enjoy to refuse and I do it with my head high because the size of a football team is not measured using a measuring tape by a construction engineer. Neither can you use the height of the players.    
It is the league standing and the ability to beat other teams. Anything short of that is child’s play at a pre-school and it must be left there.  
Nkana currently occupy position eight on the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) league. That is not a position for a team which wants to claim to be big.
Several Zambian premiership teams have gone on the international market to reinforce their squads but Nkana have not. Teams such as Buildcon, Lusaka Dynamos, ZANACO and ZESCO have come on the soccer scene with fresh ideas but Nkana have remained a traditional 21st century collection.
Amid all this, Nkana die-hards believe the combined support of ZESCO and ZANACO in the country remains lower than that of Nkana.
Those who manage these clubs must make the right decisions by going outside to get players who can reinforce competition at the respective clubs.
In the fallen years, teams that held the licence to be called big teams were Roan United Football Club, Mufulira Wanderers, Nchanga Rangers, Konkola Blades and Kalulushi Modern Stars.
They have now been reduced to former big teams. When they are heard claiming to be big, they hide their heads to avoid being seen. Instead of fighting for honours, they concentrate on fighting relegation, of all things.
These teams were big at the time they were sponsored by then ZCCM under its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Today, ZCCM Investment Holdings no longer owns the majority shareholding in these companies, so management has been left in the hands of the majority shareholders-the private companies.
Surprisingly, soccer teams bankrolled by individuals, especially this year, seem more organized than those sponsored by mining companies.
Buildcon, a Ndola-based team sponsored by an individual, has bought about 30 players on the international market.
Admittedly, the club is struggling to live up to its name, but the intention was to smash the league and take it home. Regrettably, it appears they elected quantity instead of quality.
Get me right, ba Nkana. I am not arguing that success of a club must be judged by the number of professional players they have hired from Brazil or Argentina but money must be used to make Nkana a real force on the soccer scene.
Mine-sponsored teams have been reduced to playing football for the purpose of surviving relegation from the elite layer of the league.      
A professional soccer club must seek to conquer Africa by qualifying to play continental football.
This can only be done by hiring players who can conquer Africa and blending them with local talent to mould a trophy-winning squad. That is not the case and that is where the problem sits.
The author is a Zambian journalist.