Let’s honour players

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
TIME is now for the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and Super Division clubs to honour deserving players, whether retired or active.Over the years, very few footballers have been honoured for the service rendered to the country be at national or club level.
It is better to honour people when they are alive and not when they die.
At national level, a number of footballers have scored success but their legacy has died with them.
Dickson Makwaza led a team of gallant players among them Emmanuel Mwape, Edwin Mbaso, Ackim Musenge, Dick Chama, Boniface Simutowe, Moses Simwala, Jani Simulambo, Bernard Chanda, Godfrey ‘Ucar’ Chitalu and Brighton Sinyangwe to a silver medal at the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Have these players been honoured by the country, FAZ and their respective clubs?
I am aware that Makwaza and company are FAZ life members but more must be done to recognise their great contribution to the growth of the game.
I am aware that Zambia Railways Limited honoured Chitalu by naming Super Division side Kabwe Warriors’ stadium after the goal-scoring machine.
Chitalu scored 107 goals in 1972 and Warriors went on to be crowned league champions.
I am also aware that roads in Nyumba Yanga residential area in Lusaka were named after the Gabon air crash victims.
But more should be done to appreciate footballers who have tried to put Zambia on the world map.
It is a shame to see these former stars struggling to enter a stadium to watch an international match or a league encounter because someone on the gate does not know them and wants them to pay.
Even the worst capitalists do not ask for payment from club or national legends.
For instance, FAZ in consultation with Government, can name a stand at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka or Ndola’s Levy Mwanawasa Stadium after Chitalu, Makwaza, Chanda, Fred Mwila or Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu.
Zambia is probably among a few countries that do not recognise footballers and sportspersons in the manner they should.
Makwaza, the captain of the national team from 1967 to 1975, should be offered free entry across all stadiums in the country, just like many others.
Manchester United have honoured Sir Alex Fergsuon and Ryan Giggs because of the distinguished service they offered to the Reds.
Stands at Old Trafford are named after the two gentlemen and a statue has been erected in honour of Ferguson at the stadium. It is the same across Europe.
Why should Jericho Shinde, for instance, struggle to enter Nkana Stadium? That’s an abomination if anyone knows anything about Nkana.
Several players such as Kalusha Bwalya, Charles Musonda, Johnson Bwalya, Stone Nyirenda, Lucky Msiska, Christopher Katongo should be honoured for contributing to the development of Zambian football.
Kalusha is the only player from southern Africa to have won the Africa-footballer-of-the-year award.
He was crowned Africa’s best in 1988 and what has the country done to thank him for the dedicated service.
Not even a stadium has been named after Kalusha. If South Africa can appreciate Kalusha more than his country, then as Zambians we have a problem.
Katongo is the only Zambian skipper who lifted the Africa Cup. Even Green Buffaloes, where Katongo is assistant coach, can take the lead in honouring him along with many others, among them Obby Kapita and Francis Kajiya.
The onus is on FAZ and clubs to honour footballers who spend a lot of time on the pitch in a bid to bring smiles on the faces of Zambians.
Power Dynamos won the Mandela Cup [now Confederations Cup] in 1991 and was the team, captained by Wisdom Chansa and coached by Fred Mwila, honoured?
Let’s keep talking on,

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