FIFA Grassroots Project Unlocks Door to the Future
So, the tripartite FIFA grassroots football program finally took off over the weekend in Ndola with 40 schools expected to pilot the project. The 40 schools will comprise 20 secondary and the same number for primary schools. The tripartite agreement is among FAZ, the Ministry of Youth Sport and Child Development and the Ministry of General Education and will be a FIFA supported project. We were privileged to be in the company of the minister of sports Emmanuel Mulenga who gave the program his seal of approval and pledged government support for the highly futuristic program. The program will also incorporate girls’ football to ensure that development is wholistic. Fifty percent of the teams benefitting from the project will be for girls. Under this program FAZ will also undertake to train teachers as coaches and referees. Each school will be given the privilege of having one of their teachers train as a coach and another as a referee. The trained teachers will in turn help drill the pupils and also help identify those that may have interest in becoming referees. This multi-sectoral approach will help us sort out problems on two fronts starting with talent identification and also grooming possible future referees. I was excited to meet 16-year-old Raphael Mbotela who is an upcoming referee based in Ndola and making a name for himself with his rookie officiating skills. It was good to see him at the centre of some of the games during the launch of the FIFA Schools League project. The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) will provide equipment and jerseys for the participating teams. We are very excited about this development as it blends well with our 10-year-strategic plan. This program will be coordinated by the 10 provincial offices that have been established under the decentralization exercise. We are not oblivious to the glory that schools’ football has previously had for our country. We are confident that the era of ‘School Boy’ international can be revived with good planning and excellent talent identification programs. We have already reaped a few rewards for a robust investment into grassroots football with a fully-fledged under-15 men’s national team.
Off the pitch we are excited that City of Lusaka became the first club to sign up for KoPa kit sponsorship. The USD 100, 000 worth deal will see Southern Cross Motors advertise on the Ya Moto jersey while FAZ will reap royalties from the South African manufacturing company. This is only the first step, and we have no doubt that more teams will sign up for KoPa and spread the local brand across the football spectrum. We can only say that KoPa is here to stay.
I sign off with my reflections on the Tokyo 2020 (to be played in 2021) Olympic Games preparations by the Copper Queens. Our team played in international friendly with South Africa which we lost 3-1 but can take positives from this outing, This was the first of many preparatory matches we have lined up for the girls as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. the preparations started with a trip to Santiago in Chile where they won 2-1 in December 2019. A trip to Turkey was aborted due to the Covid-19 crisis in camp but the friendlies are back on stream with us hosting Kenya on April 24 in Lusaka. We are looking to giving the team more practice and hopefully our plans for games beyond our continent cannot be hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue preparing the team to ensure that they will be competitive at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that kick-off in July.
Have pleasant week and remember to keep safe under the Covid-19 guidelines.