By GODFREY CHITALU
WHETHER we like it or not, the current complaint against mediocrity among our soccer commentators has a lot to do with Dennis Liwewe.
Forget the reasons being peddled by our soccer-crazy fans and look at this issue through critical lenses.
As a namesake to the legendary soccer icon who scored 107 goals in one season, perhaps Iâ€™m well suited to talk about this conundrum.
The late iconic commentator Liwewe had quality, talent, experience, a searching mind and unlimited tebibytes of memory all rolled in one.
He wasnâ€™t just a commentator but someone latently endowed for the challenge. Apart from being a fast speaker, he had unrivalled oratory skills matched only by his mastery of the Queenâ€™s language.
This specifically is what is lacking in our current crop of commentators, being rushed to the pinnacle of their trade at their peril.
Soccer fans pride themselves in the criticism of everything; coaches, tactics, substitutions, commentaries, kit, prevailing weather and even the weaving of their Mexican waves.
However, this â€œwave after waveâ€ of criticism, as Liwewe would put it, bears collective meritorious points.
These critics are the ones who used to attend live soccer matches with radios perched on their shoulders because they loved Liweweâ€™s commentaries.
Denying this group a dose of their soup through horrible commentary is a great disservice to them.
Not-so-good results in crucial matches have also added fuel to the commentary bonfire.
Fast-paced soccer commentary on both radio and television should be seen to follow minimum standards.
Although talent is its major axis, neutrality, skill, love for the sport, passion, experience and common sense create a good base for commentators.
It is suicidal to go into that commentary box without an iota of knowledge about the opposing teams.
The gap exhibited by the current crop of commentators, both under MultiChoice and ZNBC, leave much to be desired
Unfortunately, Zambia has no school for sportscasters and end up fast-tracking novices, interns, volunteers, well-wishers, job-seekers, sympathisers, contract workers and hangers-on to the pedestal craved by professional sports reporters.Â That revered commentary box, previously a preserve of legendries, has all of a sudden become too big for our excited youngsters.
In the wake of numerous complaints on sports commentators, ZNBC and MultiChoice should seriously avoid the ostrich route.
Both might need reality television ideas, if it can help recruit talented and qualified Zambians to fill the gap left by Liwewe.
There should be no sacred cows, as our commentators have been a collective letdown.
In the interim, the current crop can be helped through mandatory pre-match preparations, rehearsals, production meetings and training.
Sports commentators should also find time to psyche themselves and, above all, get as much background information for both teams as possible.
You donâ€™t need external advisers to avoid repeating words, faking accents, breaking the Queenâ€™s language or using alien words in your commentaries.
Iâ€™m told â€œweleeâ€ translated â€œgoalâ€ is popular in vernacular, but certainly it has no room in English broadcasts which are meant to reach a wider audience.
For the sake of Dennis Liwewe and our soccer-loving fans, let our commentators change for the better.
The author is a social and political commentator, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
Why our soccer commentators are offside
By GODFREY CHITALU