Nkandu, FAZ Confer

Minister of Youth and Sport Elvis Nkandu has conferred with the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) over wide ranging issues.

Nkandu, who has been acquainting himself with key stakeholders in the ministry of sports hosted the FAZ delegation comprising president Andrew Kamanga, his deputy Justin Mumba, general secretary Adrian Kashala and deputy general secretary Joseph Chimpampwe.

The minister urged FAZ to scale up on talent identification and infrastructural programs.

He said that youth football needed to be re-invigorated as it was strategic in the development of football in the country.

Nkandu reminisced on the old times that promoted schools’ football with referees and coaches groomed from the school system.

He also pledged to help FAZ clear their legacy debts accumulated from successive regimes.

Nkandu said that the debt for use of stadia and NAPSA and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) that have been met since the ascendancy of Kamanga to the FAZ leadership needed to be re-looked to wide out the historical burden.

He also hailed the infrastructural program that FAZ had initiated under the support of FIFA.

FAZ has identified Kaole (Luapula), David Kaunda (Eastern), Independence) and Kasama stadia (Northern).

Nkandu encouraged FAZ not to relent in their development of women’s football as evidenced by the qualification of the Copper Queens to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

He said that government would lighten the burden of FAZ being the sole sponsor of women national teams.

“I was very impressed when I watched the under-20 women, we walloped Malawi. It will be very important if Zambia can qualify to Costa Rica,” he said.

Nkandu said he was never going to interfere in the management of the game but would provide the resources for FAZ to thrive.

“I want to urge you to prepare the senior men’s team adequately for the remaining Qatar FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers since the country has good players now. I think we may now get all those that we did not get when we played Tunisia,” he said.

“When you win games, even when you are passing through a rough patch as a country. better results ignite morale in the citizenry. I want to implore you to make sure that we have better results considering that even us as government if we have been sleeping in terms of trying to facilitate your programs.”

He added: “This time we will take it upon ourselves as a ministry to look around and see if our cooperating partners can be able to help. I am aware that the u20 especially women are purely funded by yourselves. I think there is need for us as government to also extend a hand where possible.”

And Kamanga provided a status report of the Zambian game hinged on the 10-year strategic plan.

He also said that he was running an open-door policy in the management of the game.

“Our doors remain open, those with ideas are welcome. Criticism is also welcome. Our doors are open, we have many roles we can offer our colleagues like ambassadors. For example, we were in same hotel with Cameroon at CHAN, all former players were there Samuel Eto, Roger Milla and Rigobert Song and that was good for the game,” he said.

Kamanga rolled out the women football strategy that has birthed the national women’s league and so far, culminated into the Copper Queens qualifying to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

He highlighted the steps in grassroots football that has seen the creation of an under-15 national team with plans to build a u13 team underway.

Kamanga also underscored the importance of the tripartite memorandum sealed among FAZ, ministry of sports and also education to grow schools’ football as being key going forward.

On the senior men’s national team, Kamanga said the results may not be impressive in the interim but the work being put in by FAZ will eventually reap rewards.

“The senior men’s national team for men has not been doing very well and for whatever reason for the time being. These are things we think we are working on,” he said.

“Of course, for the soccer fans they are just interested in seeing the roof, but those of us involved are working very hard to build a very strong foundation to a point where most of the work we are doing now will only start showing soon maybe some of us may not even be part of that success. We need to have a very strong foundation if we are going to ensure our future.”

He also confirmed that FIFA had cleared the way for the four stadia whose rehabilitation was set to commence.

“I am also happy to report that through the ministry we have finally had a sign off on the stadia which FIFA is funding to rehabilitate. So, we have got the support in the four stadia in Eastern, Northern, Luapula and North Western. These are government facilities which have been handed over to FAZ, but they will be rehabilitated,” he said.

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