Football

Welly is the man

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
CONGRATULATIONS to veteran whistleman Welly Chikuka on his deserved appointment as referees’ manager at Football House.I know him to be a hardworking man who will improve the face of refereeing in Zambia.
Chikuka was a top-notch referee during his time on the pitch from 1969 to 1996.
I expect Chikuka to come up with a programme that will nurture referees. He dedicated all his life to refereeing, a part of sport that people look at with a dim view.
In the 1970s, 1980, and 1990s, Zambia produced some of the best referees in Africa and the world at large.
I have in mind the Kabalamula Chayu, George Collins, Bennet Simfukwe, Winston Gumboh, Costain Mweemba, Joseph Nkole and Kaci Kalande, among others.
These men raised the country’s profile on the international scene and were a marvel to watch as they were artists of some sort.
Over the years, the country has struggled to groom referees that are of international standard.
Fast-forward; Janny Sikazwe has fitted the bill and it is not surprising that he has been selected to officiate at the 2018 Russia World Cup.
Sikazwe has been exposed officiating CAF Champions League, CAF Super Cup, FIFA Under-20 World Cup and Club World Cup competitions among others.
Zambia is in a hurry to groom several Sikazwes so that there is no vacuum in future.
Gladys Lengwe has also blossomed and will officiate at the Under-20 Women World Cup in France in August this year.
Chikuka has a task at hand to ensure that several young men and women are groomed for the future.
He was instrumental in grooming Sikazwe and I am sure he is happy to see the 38-year-old handling international matches.
Now that he is calling shots at Football House, Chikuka has to put a programme in place and ensure that the days that Zambian referees were the cream on the continent are back.
Chikuka should not just concentrate on making appointments for Super Division matches but identify upcoming referees in all the districts.
All the best to Mr Chikuka and congratulations to the Football Association of Zambia for making a reasonable and objective appointment.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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