KELVIN MBEWE, Lusaka
OVER the last few weeks, construction workers have transformed a dusty playground in Kuku township into a modern sports facility.Soon, the sports ground will be filled with the shrill noises of children hitting balls – basket balls, net balls and foot balls.
The project is the brain-child of the area councillor Tasila Lungu.
The facility has transformed this corner of the township. It was constructed Avic International at a cost of US $ 200,000.
Kuku township, which lies south of Lusaka, is a place of squalor, with narrow dusty alleys usually filled with playing children and adults engaged in trade.
Many men in the township patronise the many small liquor stores in the township as early as 09:00 hours.
But the sports facility, which is yet to be opened, is set to change this scenario.
The new facility includes an all-weather artificial grass football pitch, running track, netball, volleyball and basketball courts.
It also has a secure car park and toilets.
The facility has been constructed on land which was previously used as a football pitch, but lay in a deplorable state.
The facility is in Nkoloma Ward 1.
The residents of Kuku are happy with the development, which they say will help keep young people busy and away from alcohol abuse, and prostitution.
Jackson Mwanza, 18, is a football fanatic who is already envisioning the benefits of the sports facility once opened.
“This facility will help us in a lot of ways, a lot of youths here have become alcoholics and smokers because they stopped playing football when this facility was in its previous state. As we speak, most of them are in bars drinking,” he said.
Mr Mwanza said there is a lot of talent in Kuku which once nurtured can produce great players.
“For the love of sport, football especially, we had to go to John Howard to train. This facility will help a lot of youths and make them busy because it has different sport disciplines such as netball, volleyball, basketball and football, which means that a lot of youths will be catered for. We can’t wait for it to open,” he said.
Beatrice Chama, 21, is a netball player who stopped playing after she left high school due to the lack of facilities.
“Most of my fellow players whom I played with at school are now professionals playing for Green Eagles, Power Dynamos and others. I will resume once the facility is opened and continue from where I left,” she said.
Kuku United Football Club coach Afick Zulu said the sports facility is a dream come true for Kuku residents.
He said the area where the facility has been built has been undeveloped for over 25 years.
“We had challenges whereby when it rains, water would collect and we could not play football in the ground until it sinks,” he said.
Mr Zulu said the sports facility will positively impact on the local people.
“In other places like Kanyama, such a pitch has been turned into people’s plots. And the result is that young people have nothing to keep them busy and they turn to drinking alcohol,” he said.
He thanked Ms Lungu for working on the sports facility.
“Previously, we had challenges with people who saw plots on this football pitch. A lot of people wanted to build houses here, sometimes we would wake up in the morning to find beacons on the pitch,” he said.
But not everyone is happy.
Paul Chilekwa said the money should have been directed to Chikwa rural health clinic in the area.
“Why not build a school or a hospital? Do you know the state of Chikwa Rural Health Centre? Why not buy Panadol and spirit for the hospital. Yes I appreciate ichibansa (football pitch) but I know it won’t be maintained. So that money can do something better for poor Zambians,” he said.
Mr Zulu said when President Lungu was the area member of parliament, he wanted to construct a hospital where the sports facility is located but the local people refused.
“President Lungu heard our cry and he promised to improve the facility,” he said.
For Ms Lungu, the sports facility is a fulfillment of her promise to the people of Nkoloma Ward 1.
In her Facebook posting, Ms Lungu said the construction of the sports facility is the beginning of much more development which is in the pipeline for the people of Kuku.
“A few months ago, I promised to update you on one of our many key community projects, which is to completely overhaul Kuku ground in Nkoloma Ward 1,” she said.
Ms Lungu said the sports facility is owed to the people of Nkoloma ward 1 whom she said have been constantly reminding her of constructing the facility.
“I would like to give special praise and congratulations to the ordinary men, women and the youth of Nkoloma Ward 1 for all their support and encouragement for this project,” she said.
KELVIN MBEWE, Lusaka