GOVERNMENT says Zambia can now bid to host major international competitions following construction and rehabilitation works of sports infrastructure in the country.
Sports Deputy Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu during the draws for the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games, expressed confidence that the country can now host major international tournaments after two failed attempts to host continental sports extravaganzas.
Mubukwanu said that with progress made in setting stage for the SCSA Zone Six Games in Lusaka next month, the spirits were now high that Zambia can finally break the duck.
In 1985, Zambia successfully won the bid to host the 1986 Africa Cup of Nations which led to the razing of Dag Hammarskjöld Stadium in Ndola but failed to reconstruct, a move that saw the Nations' Cup moved to Egypt and Zambia was barred from competing at that same then eight-team competition.
And just last year, Government pulled out of hosting the All-Africa Games after the bid was granted to Zambia citing falling copper prices and reduced Government cash inflow to sustain infrastructure development with the games moved to neighbouring Mozambique.
"This was mainly due to poor sports infrastructure in the country. The Zone Six Games will give Zambia the opportunity to have the confidence to host big sporting events from this year onwards," Mubukwanu said.
His words were echoed by SCSA General Secretary Mvuzo Mbebe, who said the facilities that were being left behind as a result of the regional Youth Games were as good as can be for hosting any international competition.
Government has embarked on a K135 billion renovations and construction of sporting facilities in Lusaka for the hosting of Zone Six Youth Games that would run from December 4 to 17.
The peak of the impressive works is the construction of a completely new Olympics size swimming pool at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) and the renovations to the University of Zambia hostels and cafeteria.
Mubukwanu said that the Youth Games would leave an indelible and significant mark in the history of the sport in the country as it had accorded Zambia an opportunity to build and improve sports facilities in Lusaka.
"Achievements are usually made against great odds such as limited funding towards sport programme and poor sports facilities," he said.
Mbebe, who is also organising committee chairperson for the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa, said that the swimming pool facilities can host any event put up by the World Swimming Federation (FINA).
"It's impressive to see how much work has been done in the last few weeks, we have a swimming pool of international standards, games like netball now have a home and the only thing old at the National Sports Development Centre (Nasdec) are the outside walls," he said.
He said Zambia had showed to the region and the world that it had the ability to pool resources together for one goal adding it was a confidence booster when Zambia decides to go for big international competitions.