PRESIDENT’S CORNER: Infrastructural Revolution Kicks Off with FAZ Accommodation Centre

Finally, the works at the proposed FAZ Accommodation Centre have kicked off. It has been a long way of haggling back and forth with FIFA to meet the criterion demanded of the process. It is, however, something that is unexpected given the stringent measures that FIFA demands of its member associations. We have signed up for multiple infrastructural development projects that includes five stadia namely Kaole (Luapula), Kasama (Northern), Independence (North Western), David Kaunda (Eastern) and Maramba (Southern). The Accommodation Centre lies along Great North Road behind the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC), previously known as the Technical Centre.

The accommodation centre that will have four blocks, change rooms, canteen and guardroom will save the association a lot of resources spent on camping teams in hotels. It is a model that we have refined through learning from the experience of other countries. We also have our eyes on setting up an ideal technical centre which will house sports infrastructure and an accommodation centre. We have already secured a piece of land for the setting up of a modern-day Technical Centre that will meet the FIFA benchmark replete with stadia and camping facilities. The process has already been triggered and the nation will be informed in due course. Our Centre of Excellence in Luanshya is almost complete with an administration block, artificial pitch, and classroom blocks part of the set up. There is no substitute for football development than continuous investments in the grassroots to get our game to the level we can all be proud of.

On stadia upgrade, we have already submitted all the requisite documentation of the detailed works to be done. We are happy that government has acceded to the demand by FIFA to increase the lease of the four stadia to 25 years and not 20 as granted earlier by the Attorney General. We await the actual commencement of the projects once FIFA releases the funds. We are mindful of the strict conditions attached to these funds and are committed to live up to our reputation of transparency and accountability. The upgrade of stadia will spread to all the 10 provinces eventually to stimulate our grassroots program that is a creation of our decentralization program. It is a no brainer that once football development is rebooted from the grassroots it will strengthen our national teams. The process may appear slow and frustrating but with repeated investment in grassroots football, our national teams will be stronger. We have already experienced some measure of success with our junior and women national teams that have shone on the international stage. With a little push and persistence, we will have more players ready to compete at the national level.

Have a pleasant week and remember to observe the Covid-19 guidelines.

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