LABOUR Minister Fackson Shamenda has hailed Napsa Stars for lifting the 2012 Barclays Cup Trophy for the first time.
Shamenda said during the official handover of the Barclays Cup Trophy by Napsa Stars to the team's management at the Levy Business Park on Thursday evening that the club had achieved an honour that seemed impossible in the past.
He said winning the prestigious Barclays Cup was no mean achievement for the team especially considering that it was the Napsa's first time in the top flight football after spending more than a decade in the lower division.
"It gives me pleasure to officiate on this momentous occasion when we are celebrating Napsa Stars achievement in the 2012 soccer season; you have managed to lift the Barclays Cup against all expectations.
Allow me to say this is no mean achievement, especially considering the fact that this is your first time in the Premier Division League after more than 10 years of playing in Division One," Shamenda said.
Shamenda who is former Sports minister said the team managed to beat household names in the championship like Red Arrows and two former champions, Zesco United and Power Dynamos, and noted that the two teams had dominated the Barclays Cup in the last five years of its existence.
He said the cup had been exchanging consistently between the two Copperbelt teams saying it was encouraging for the first time that a Lusaka based team was lifting the cup.
He urged the team to work even harder in the coming season so that the players could be defend the title for many more times and climb up on the Premier Division League Table adding that it would a great pleasure to see more of the players playing in the national team and get professional contracts abroad.
He commended Napsa management for remaining committed to supporting sport, football in particular as part of its social corporate responsibility and he commended other organisations for their support.
The minister also paid tribute to Barclays Bank for their continued sponsorship of the Barclays Cup and urged other financial institutions to follow suit and help in promoting sports in the country.
And speaking at the same function Napsa Director General, Charles Mpundu said NAPSA management was impressed with the team's triumph in the Barclays Cup.
Mpundu said it was gratifying that Napsa were crowned new Barclays Cup champions despite being in the elite league for the first time in over a decade and that the team would endeavour to remain in the Premier League.
He said his company would do everything possible to ensure the team wins more accolades in future competitions, and assured that his management would work together with the team for continued success.
Napsa also handed a brand new bus to the team as a way of appreciating their efforts.
"This is real pleasure on the achievement of the Barclays Cup victory; we are the champions.
We are new in the Premier League and we have won the cup.
We will make sure we go a long way," Mpundu said.
And Club chairperson Richie Nawa thanked Napsa management for their continued support to the team saying that even after being in the lower ranks for so many years, the company never relented in supporting the team.
Nawa said he was hopeful Napsa would continue to support the team, and that the team would pay back by bringing more glory to the institution.
And team captain, Kalililo Kakonje said the team prepared well for the championship and that it was therefore not a shock that they scooped the championship.
Kakonje said the team would work even harder next season and make sure the trophy did not leave the Napsa offices as the team would defend the trophy.
"We prepared well for competition, and believe me it was not by fluke that we won the championship. We knew what we were doing and we will make sure we defend it next year," Kakonje said.