Celebrating Our Women in the Beautiful Game
Today is women’s day and I wish to salute the many ladies that continue to fly the Zambian flag in various sport spheres. At FAZ we are proud to everyday be a shining light of what can happen if women are given opportunities and support. For the first time in the history of our country’s football, our senior women national team will be representing the country at the Olympic Games. It will be the first time Zambia will be represented in football since 1988 when that golden generation of the men’s team represented us in Seoul with a memorable quarterfinal finish. Off the pitch, football has seen several women providing leadership and support to the beautiful game. The revised FAZ constitution provides a position exclusive to women at national level and across all provincial committees. In a small way, we are humbly contributing towards the uplifting of women in leadership positions. Our commitment to the women drive is more than 100 percent.
The Olympic bound Copper Queens will also commence their final lap of preparations for the Tokyo Games. The technical bench and secretariat have been finalizing the team’s program ahead of the Olympics after the squad broke camp a fortnight ago. We continue to liaise with the committee of eminent women spearheaded by Ms Charity Lumpa that is fundraising for the team’s Olympic dream. We are happy that our players plying their trade in foreign leagues are getting some game time while our local league has also resumed which will be welcome news to the coaches.
Away from women football, last week ABSA Bank announced the return of the 2021 ABSA Cup. ABSA Bank committed K3.8 million which is a considerable sum given the strain Covid-19 has placed on finances. It has also revealed possible explosive fixtures with the quarterfinals set for March 13-14 at Woodlands Stadium while the semis will move to Kitwe at Arthur Davies. The final will be played on April 25 at yet to be named venue.
Digging deeper into football, our CAF Confederation Cup envoys Napsa Stars and Nkana flying away to Morocco and Egypt respectively for their group stage encounters. Our under-17 boys are off to Morocco where they are preparing for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations that kicks off this Saturday. Zambia is drawn in Group A with Morocco, Ivory Coast and Uganda. We can only wish the boys the best of luck having arranged their participation in at least two international friendly matches before the tournament kicks off. We are confident that with the investment we have put in as an Association, we will be able to see them do better. Participation in such tournaments will help our boys’ developmental trajectory. The progress in our youth teams speaks to our 10-year strategic plan that has laid ground for football development.
Interestingly, our senior national team coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has also named his 33-member provisional squad for the two crucial Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifiers against Algeria and Zimbabwe. We have given the technical leeway to pick the players he thinks will best deliver on these assignments. My executive does not meddle in matters of player selection but leaves the technical aspects to the experts. We have also gotten to work early to ensure that we prepare the administrative side of business very well. Our players will be highly motivated to deliver with the package that has been put before them. We are confident that they will swing the tide in their favour in Group H in the remaining 180 minutes.
Finally, I would like to wish the Zambian teams playing in continental assignments all the best. They should remember that they are carrying the hopes and dreams of the over 18 million Zambians. May you do our country proud!
Good day and Happy Women’s Day!