columnBy Mwale Simon
BEFORE my topic this week was overtaken by events, with Government having fully funded the Zambian boxer's trip to Tanzania for a friendly ahead of the forthcoming Zone Six Games in Lusaka, I had wondered if one tried to understand everything in life, they would probably end up in Chainama Hospital as a mental case.
This past week, even at the risk of ending up at the renowned asylum, I've been trying to understand why or how the entire Government, with all the financial wherewithal at its command, could possibly fail to raise a paltry K35 million to send an Under-20 boxing squad to Tanzania for a friendly tournament as part of preparations ahead of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games from December 4 to 17.
To ascertain whether Government has the capacity to raise K35 million, all we needed to do was count the number of Cabinet ministers who had camped in Mufumbwe for the by-election campaigns and multiply their number by their daily allowances per person and multiply these by the actual number of days spent and you would have your answer.
In a piece published in this column on September 8, titled: "Camp boxers early to win medals, Kanyanta", National Under-20 coach Kennedy Kanyanta, made it clear that Zambia has what it takes to excel at the games if only there was a certain level of seriousness attached to preparations. Part of the seriousness is funding the training programme. And camping the boxers early.
He said Zambia can win three or four gold, not just medals, but gold at the forthcoming Games, now only three weeks away, in Lusaka if only the correct things were done.
Kanyanta expressed concern the previous week about the quality of most of his boxers camped for the Games after watching them in action in a Southern Province Amateur Boxing Association (SPABA) tournament in Mazabuka.
He warned that if they did not improve, then Zambia should dispel any notion of reaping any medals at the Games. This criticism, coming as it did from a man whose ring record was a perfect one, (11-0, 9 Kos,) was not only valid, but timely, too.
Zambia Amateur Boxing Federation (ZABF) president Thomas Chileshe was right when he said Government's failure or reluctance to release funding for the trip had dampened the boxers' morale, but more importantly, put paid any chance of Zambian boxers reaping any medals at the Games.
With this international exposure removed from the training programme Zambia had descended from medal-contender-bracket to a mere participant. Surely, is this what we planned for as a country and as hosts?
The Minister of Sport Chishimba Kambwili is on record that Government will support all sports disciplines equally. If this is so, where is the K35 million for the boxers? The Chipolopolo boys received K25 million each as winning bonus against the Uganda Cranes recently.
Where did Government get this money?
At this writing, the Tanzanians had even postponed the tournament by a week to allow Zambians mobilise resources and surely this good gesture deserves another in turn.
ZABF has been preparing the boxers, in Chileshe's words, "without Government help." Is it too much to ask Government to play its part now? Surely if Zambian boxers come croppers at the Games, on whose doorstep should the blame be laid? The buck stops at you, Government. Find the money!
I would like to thank the Government, through Sports Minister Kambwili for bailing out the local pugilists. Hope they will have a fruitful training experience in Tanzania and shape up well for the inaugural Zone Six Games being hosted by Zambia.