At the 2019 Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Annual General Meeting, major plans were brought to light, big pronouncements made and few crucial decisions were reached.
President Andrew Kamanga in his address to the house gave both hope and direction on the way forward to setting Zambian football on an upward trajectory hence forth. This comes after a bruised 12 months for Zambian football especially the senior men’s national team.
Despite government’s position on desiring a local to take charge of the team, the football association desires a high profile expatriate well vest in international football and modern trends to put matters in order for a sleeping giant and get the wheels moving from the off.
Considering what has happened post 2012 and Sven Vandenbroek not working out, the stance on a high profile trainer is welcome.
The trainer is expected to work in line with the FAZ 10 year’s strategy with his immediate targets being in the first four years. During this four year period the association is targeting a good showing at the 2021 AfCON and a maiden FIFA World cup bow at the 2022 edition in Qatar.
In addition to this, the 2019 COSAFA senior challenge cup and CHAN 2020 remain important competitions at which the sole target for entering will be winning.
To ensure that Zambian trainers are not left out during this period of an expatriate coaching and for the sake of continuous capacity building, plans are well underway to have local coaches upgraded to international modern standards.
In a show of how serious this is being taken, the association’s president was recently in Croatia for knowledge exchange and further an MoU with the Croatian F.A will be signed soon both aimed at improving the standards of football and coaching in the country.
To this end Croatian instructors will be coming to Zambia to build the capacity of locals and crucially Five young Zambian coaches are set to go for further training in Croatia among them AfCON 2012 gold medallist Noah Chivuta who already hold a Diploma in Sports Nutrition.
These coaches may not coach the Chipolopolo now but certainly will improve Zambian football at their various clubs and levels which they will coach at.
Croatia is a good choice considering how greatly their football has improved over the last 20 years within which they have minted both World cup bronze and silver and produced a Balon d’or winner. Certainly much can be learned and implemented from there in line with our needs.
The other milestone was the training of Thirty Five University of Zambia Physical Education Master’s Degree students from across the ends of the country in the FAZ D coaching license (Elementary Coaching).
This is further testament of the desire to get it right across the country when it comes to grassroots and formative football.
On the other hand, junior teams remain an integral part of the whole plan. That is where the next stars are sourced. For this reason, Grassroots football remains important.
The appointment of Lyson Zulu as Technical Director will come in handy at this stage. He and his technical team are expected to plan and implement the way forward for good practices under guidance from FIFA to ensure the grassroots are fully running and producing.
Further to the above, FAZ through its restructuring of leagues plans to bring age restrictions in some league tiers with the aim of identifying talent early and continuous replenishment of the Junior National teams. This will also be a good step toward curbing age cheating which continues to be a threat toward development of the African game.
Beyond the afore written, it was noted in the financials presented at the AGM that the operating income has reduced drastically for 2018 in comparison to 2019 especially under Game Revenue and sponsorship all culminating in a K17 million deficit.
Realising the National teams especially the Chipolopolo needs money among many to get back to the top, the Chipolopolo bond target of USD 10 million is a welcome initiative. It must be supported fully as it will not just aid the senior team but help in the identification of junior talents. The Money is needed.
Chipolopolo being the main team upon which most fans will judge the football association and the international profile of Zambian football hinges, the need for resuscitation is huge.
The pieces are many and all point toward the desire for a strong and favorably competing senior team.
The direction being taken, the steps already being made and those in the pipeline are laudable.
The results may not be seen now but like the classic Chinese bamboo tree, patience will be required before Zambia shoots up again.
The will has been demonstrated, with time it will lead to a way.