Columnists Features

Zesco United: A beacon of Zambia’s football development potential

ZESCO United players and officials congratulating each other after beating Stade Malien 2-1 at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola recently. The win saw Zesco qualify for the CAF Champions League group stage. PICTURE: MUWLANDA LUPIYA

ZESCO Limited deserves to be commended for its good corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies which include making a positive impact on the consumers of their products and services who are the Zambian communities. What positive impact?
Provision of entertainment to our communities by way of promoting the number-one Zambian sport, football, or soccer, as the Americans call it.
The company provides full sponsorship to Zambia’s football powerhouse Zesco United.
And most importantly, I wish to commend and appreciate the working team responsible for the strategic planning and practical translation and implementation of the power utility company’s CSR policy into the entertainment that we enjoy at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, which is the management and staff of Zesco United Football Club led by chief executive officer and general secretary, the experienced and astute Football administrator Justin Mumba.
Without doubt, Zesco have for the last decade been the most consistent performer in Zambian football and consistently entertaining us and providing a platform for showcasing some of the best local and international talent. With the coming of the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, we now have the privilege of watching, in comfort, the current best Zambian football club competing in the CAF Champions League at an ultra-modern stadium. With the team’s qualification to the group stage of the CAF Champions League, we are assured of more international club football entertainment.
To attain the level of consistency and improvement the Zesco-sponsored outfit has achieved, the club has taken bold developmental steps to bring professionalism in all aspects of the management of the club.
Amongst other organisational implementations, they have instituted two important development programmes at Zesco. One is the formation of satellite developmental teams in various parts of the country which is the platform to develop the young talented players that senior club recruits after scouting from all over the country.
Zesco have created development teams in Ndola, Lusaka, Livingstone, Choma, Mongu, Solwezi, Mansa, Mkushi and Lusiwasi near Serenje. The second programme is the capacity building of the coaches in these developmental teams.
The club identified the many former players of the team who have potential for coaching, have them undertake CAF coaching courses to license them and engaged them to coach these teams. They have also kept training these coaches to update their skills at developing football players. As part of their capacity building policy, Zesco have trained Mathews Chikwete, Emmanuel Msichili, Yonah Mwango, Enock Sakala, Clifford Chipalo, Chalwe Kabamba, Francis Kasonde, Lewis Chalwe, Mary Phiri, Vesper Janza, William Banda, Chrispin Mwaba, Emmanuel Siwale and others who are the coaches for the development teams.
The players developed in these catchment teams are nurtured to prepare those that can develop to a high level to fit in the main team. This reservoir not only helps the senior team to retain depth in human resource but also reduce costs on the purchase of local players from other teams because they have the option of developing their own talent.
Coupled with provision of the necessary facilities and structures required, identification and development of young talented footballers by trained coaches adept at giving the correct training methods to the young players at the correct time is the solution to having good capable players who can help teams win championships both at club and international level.
While improving their squad by bringing in professionals from other countries, Zesco recently promoted young players from the development teams in youngsters Shemmy Mayembe and Luckson Chewe from Zesco Academy Ndola and Samson Banda and Kasashi Lupiya from Zesco Malaiti Lusaka.
Coach George Lwandamina gave the young Shemmy Mayembe his debut in the 3-0 home league game win against Nkwazi and followed that up with a starting position for the lad in the CAF Champions League win against Stade Malien and the lad accounted for himself very well.
Zesco have given us a glimpse of what the future would look like if as a nation we invested in a countrywide youth development programme where we identify talented youngsters throughout the country including the remotest areas. We would make good successful teams which will win championships and keep winning many times over.
We would become the football powerhouse that we are supposed to be considering the rich football talent in our genes. We can realise our full potential.
Hail the club management and the team management led by the experienced Lwandamina for the achievements they are making.
Mumba [club secretary] , committee member Hastings Ndovi and Lwandamina are our torch-bearers, making the nation proud by their good works.
Zesco are a beacon of football development and club administrators of other clubs. FAZ and the Government would do well to take a leaf from Zesco so that we can improve our game.
The author is a veteran football coach based in Ndola.

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