GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
BY DEFINITION, the Zambia Army is there to defend the country and its citizens from external and internal aggression.
At least this is the only role many people know the military for.
But as deputy army commander Jackson Miti explains, the army is also involved in a number of sports activities, both within its ranks and the civilian communities.
In other words, the army has been instrumental in developing sports in the country.
It has developed several sports personalities in various disciplines who have represented the country at the highest level – from the Africa Cup of Nations starting in 1974 – Commonwealth and Olympic Games, among the many high-profile events.
It has produced some of the finest sportsmen and women who have brought honour to the country and it is only normal that the army upholds the legacy of sponsoring sports.
It is also pleasing that the army has continued with emphasis on discipline and for it to continue being the anchor for sports development in the country.
It was, therefore, soothing to hear Major General Miti committing the army to continuing supporting its sports teams.
After all, military is synonymous with sports.
Despite the harsh economic times, it is pleasing that the mother of sports, the army, has continued rewarding outstanding athletes.
It is not the token that those sportsmen and women who marched to receive awards that mattered, rather, it was the spirit behind the giving by the army.
The sportsmen and women felt appreciated by the command and their shouts told it all.
Addressing the enthusiastic athletes and their officials, Major General Miti also acknowledged that while the army is willing to continue supporting its various sports clubs dotted around the country, it needs to do more.
This is in view of some disciplines like basketball failing to fulfil international club obligations.
Basketballers may have been disappointed that they failed to represent the country. It was not deliberate. Unless one has gone around the country, one will never appreciate the greater role the army plays in the countryâ€™s socio-economic development.
Recently, I was in Kalabo and was pleasantly surprised to see an army truck at the offices of Western Water and Sewerage Company – purpose – to draw water for the camp near the airstrip.
The army has maintained that camp to flush out Barotse secessionists.
So, the armyâ€™s jurisdiction ranges from maintaining the countryâ€™s borders to running military cantonments dotted around the country as well as operations such as those in Kalabo.
The resource envelope is over-stretched to the extent that the military may not sponsor its sports clubs adequately, especially in this era when money is at the centre of all sports activities.
This places a premium on the army to look outside the box, and forging partnerships with the business community is one of the sustainable alternatives.
The army now needs business-minded people to run its sports clubs. Therefore, its strategic partnership with BancABC, which sponsors Green Buffaloes Football Club, is not misplaced, so is the alliance with Astro Africa, financial backers of the indomitable rugby team and a host of other corporates who have decided to align with the Zambia Army.
Taking care of sports clubs is so demanding nowadays and with competing demands for the Government grant, the army will do well to continue using its good name to bring more investors to its sports clubs.
The army may also use its muscle to woo its suppliers to give back in kind.
Companies like BancABC and Astro should be commended for taking the initiative to align with the army in developing sports in the country.
Astro business development manager Enock Kaimba told me that it is part of his companyâ€™s corporate social responsibility to revamp sports by aligning themselves with rugby, which they kit and help out with logistics.
â€œOur CEO [chief executive officer] Munyaradzi Gwatidzo is a fan of rugby,â€ Kaimba said to justify Astroâ€™s affinity to rugby.
Major General Miti should ensure that as the army partners with the business community, it should create centres of excellence in all sports disciplines to help revive sports in view of the country failing to win medals at high-profile international competitions lately.
Congrats Dan Kabwe
I wish to congratulate Power Dynamos coach Daniel Kabwe for deservedly earning the UEFA B international coaching licence from the English Football Association.
Kabwe, who is also Zambia Football Coaches Association (ZAFCA) interim president, becomes the fourth local coach to get the qualification.
Others are Kalusha Bwalya, former Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Red Arrows coach Honour Janza and Zimbabwe-based coach Kelvin Kaindu.
Kaindu, who is with How Mine FC in Zimbabwe, got his UEFA B licence in 2014. He did his Level Two course in 2011.
Undertaking such programmes entails a lot of sacrifice and commitment because these programmes do not come cheap.
As ZAFCA boss, he has raised the bar and other coaches in the country should also aspire to obtain that qualification as well.
However, acquiring a qualification is just one aspect of the game. I am sure the Power executive and fans will look forward to seeing Kabweâ€™s UEFA B qualification on the pitch by winning them the elusive Super Division title.
Kabwe has the experience to bring the league championship to Arthur Davies Stadium and should commit himself to a team that is bringing him the bread and butter.
It is prestigious to be technical advisor at the Chipolopolo but it will be more envious to bring glory to the club.
I am suggesting that Kabwe recuses himself from the senior national team and ask FAZ to give him lighter duties such as the Olympic squad to show his prowess rather than fighting for attention at the Chipolopolo with Wedson Nyirenda.
With that dusted, Kabwe should also work towards mobilising all coaches in the country to join ZAFCA.
He must work with FAZ by ensuring that for any coach to be registered for the 2017 soccer season, they should not only have CAF B licences but produce evidence of being ZAFCA members.