MICHAEL MIYOBA writes
ZAMBIA Sports Fans Association patron Peter Makembo has defended government over allegations that it neglected the Zambia National Soccer team as it represented the nation at the African Nations Championship CHAN in Cameroon.
It is alleged that the Ministry of Sports refused to send officials after it u-turned on its pledge to sponsor the Chipolopolo as they prepared for the tournament.
Efforts to get a comment from Director of Sport John Zulu concerning the allegations were unsuccessful as his phone went unanswered while the minister, Emmanuel Mulenga, is on a month’s leave. However, Makembo said failure to send a government official to Cameroon may have been due to miscommunication between FAZ and the Ministry of Sports. Makembo said President Edgar Lungu has always supported the growth of sports especially football which is considered country’s number one sport.
He has urged both FAZ and the Ministry of Sports to focus on developing football which is a source of income for many youths instead of pointing fingers at each other.
“It is a pity that FAZ and the Ministry of Sports couldn’t coordinate during the crucial tournament in Cameroon.
“It is not that Government didn’t want to participate in the CHAN, no. As patron of the Chipolopolo President Lungu has always been there for both the Chipolopolo and the Copper Queens so it is just the Ministry of Sports and the association who have to improve on how they communicate,” Makembo said.
Makembo said now is not the time to start pointing fingers on why the team failed in Cameroon but focus on how the two bodies can unite and rise as the AFCON qualifiers approach.
He however noted that there is need for the Ministry of Sports to up its game when it comes to helping national teams prepare for crucial national assignments.
Makembo said the Ministry of Sports should not fold its hands but step up and help athletes, boxers and footballers who qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games as preparations intensify.