Sports fraternity awaits appointment of minister

FOLLOWING the re-election of President Edgar Lungu, focus is now on his Cabinet which he will unveil after his inauguration on Tuesday.
Congratulations to you, Mr President.
During the meeting with the private sector last Thursday, President-elect Lungu said that the ministers he will appoint must be business-and public-friendly because dialogue will be the hallmark of his Presidency.
Sports needs resuscitation and therefore needs the attention of the Presidency for the country’s athletes to start bringing honours and smiles.
It is our prayer that one of the sports administrators will be at the Ministry of Sports and Youths.
It is the first time we are having high-profile sports administrators getting to Parliament.
Of course, this is not the first time we are having former sports administrators as parliamentarians.
We had former international midfielder Emmanuel Munaile, then as an independent legislator for Malole Constituency and doubling as FAZ vice-president, former Zamsure Football Club chairperson and FAZ committee member Mwansa Mbulakulima, who was Chembe member of Parliament.
The problem we have had has been people with no background in sports administration being appointed as sports ministers and these took almost a year to learn the ropes.
President Lungu has fine sports administrators with traceable records at his disposal.
These include Chingola lawmaker Mathew Nkhuwa, his Nchanga counterpart Chali Chilombo, Sylvia Chalikosa and Kamfinsa MP Elario Musonda who is an avid golfer and administrator.
New Lukashya MP Mwila Munkonge, an independent, is also another candidate for the position.
Soccer icon Kalusha Bwalya also fits the bill, so does Austin Chewe, proprietor of the Aupie Boxing Stables.
Given his high-profile and personality, Kalusha is also best suited to be Minister of Foreign Affairs.
These will have the support of Lukulu legislator Christopher Kalila, founder of Afrisport Football Club which produced internationals Jacob Mulenga and Rainford Kalaba.
Nkeyema MP Astley Kapelwa Mbangweta, an avid golfer, will also boost the debate for more funding to the sports sector.
However, if any of the personalities from the sports fraternity are given the baton to run sports in the country, it should not be an opportunity to settle old scores or being biased towards the sports associations they represented or indeed friends.
For instance, amateur boxing found itself in the mess it is today because somebody at the ministry of wanted to protect some unpopular administrators and in the process the sport suffered.
Similarly, the sports fraternity expect a positive change by the various councillors who have been elected.
Most of them are young and should foster sports development right from ward level up to the constituency.
I challenge new councillors to start setting aside a percentage from government grants and Constituency Development Funds towards sports development.
And the Rio Olympics come to an end this weekend. It is an opportunity for the new government to look realistically at our performance in the Olympics as a whole.
Apart from the poor performance which has characterised our participation of late, even the numbers of athletes qualifying for the Olympics has lamentably gone down and this should be a genuine concern for President Lungu.
Government should evaluate the National Olympic Committee and look at its relevance and what its contribution to sports development has been.
I, therefore, expect Government to start allocating more resources towards high performance training programmes and competitions.
This should be done through a special funding basket to be administered at the Ministry of Sport and a significant part of it at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) as the national High Performance Training Centre for the 18 sports based at the centre near National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Resourcing of this high performance, funding basket should be done mainly through the treasury starting with a 2 percent addition on all beverages in the 2017 budget.
This same basket will be used to train and hire top high performance coaches. The biggest is more international competitions for our deserving athletes.
OYDC director Clement Chileshe says he will be submitting a proposal to State House on this as it is the only way athletes can deliver medals to the country.
“We have shown we can deliver by our success in the 2014 Youth Olympics with the biggest number of qualified athletes and a 100 metres gold medallist but this came at a high cost which almost paralysed the centre’s operations as it was self-financing. We had to cut this funding after and it has had a negative impact. …let the country try us by giving us funding and we definitely will deliver,” Chileshe says.
May the Almighty God’s favour continue being upon His Excellency as mother Zambia prospers in all areas of human endeavour.
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