Football

President spot-on

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
INDEED, President Edgar Lungu’s passion for football is encouraging.He was spot-on when talking about what has gone wrong in Zambian football and what needs to be done to remedy the situation.
The head of State unleashed what was on his mind last Wednesday when he received national team KoPa replicas from Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga.
The President is abreast with issues affecting the development of the beautiful game.
He spoke about the lack of transparency at Football House and the failure by the under-17 and under-20 national teams to qualify for their respective continental age-group tournaments.
President Lungu also urged FAZ to ensure that the Chipolopolo book a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals after missing out on the 2017 edition in Gabon.
He said productivity in the country is affected when the Chipolopolo fire blanks.
This is indeed true.
The onus is now on the FAZ hierarchy to take advantage of President Lungu’s passion for the game to ensure all the issues he highlighted are tackled expeditiously.
By the way, what has happened to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) FAZ and the Ministry of General Education signed last year on improving youth football?
Time is ripe for FAZ to establish a national schools league which can be used to identify players for various age-group
teams.
We need to go back to the days when schoolboy internationals were identified.
For instance, former international midfielder Jani Simulambo was a product of schools football.
Simulambo, who was part of the national team that finished second at the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, started featuring for the then KK11 squad when he was at Livingstone’s Hillcrest Technical Secondary School in the late 1960s.
Several players that made a mark in the 1970s and 80s were products of the schools league.
Football icon Kalusha Bwalya came from the schools league and was crowned Africa’s best player in 1988 among his many achievements.
The failure by the under-17 and under-20 national teams should be a wake-up call to establish a national schools leag ue.
It is not enough to depend on the Copa Coca-Cola Schools Championship, which is an annual event, to tap talent.
For Zambia to regain its top position in Africa, it needs a strong foundation and must put emphasis on youth football as the way to go.
The under-13 and under-15 teams should be established so that development of players could be traced.
In so doing, the country will be curbing age cheating, which is rampant in Zambian football.
Let’s interact on sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gnail.com

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