FINALLY, the much talked about Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games will today become a reality when they kick off with an opening ceremony at Nkoloma Stadium.
After weeks of anticipation concerning Zambia's preparedness to successfully host the Games, something tangible is on the ground to enable us host these regional Games, which, as Republican Vice-President Guy Scott said, "we managed just by the skin of our teeth".
While the men and women at both the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Works and Supply laboured tirelessly to ensure the facilities were in place to see Zambia host the Games, the culture of doing things at the last minute should never be tolerated.
In as much as Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili might have justified the delay to start construction and rehabilitation works, it is important for proper planning whenever we are hosting such Games, whether a project was started by another Government or not.
Scott, during his tour at the Games Village at the University of Zambia (UNZA) on Tuesday and during the MTN-FAZ League awards on Wednesday night, was happy that we are hosting the Games but bemoaned the same culture of doing things at the last minute.
"We made it by the skin of our teeth. What would have happened if there was a strike this week?"
And I am sure the Vice-President's sentiments or rather concerns are shared by many millions of Zambians, who held their breath and prayed the Games take place.
Thank God, the swimming pool named '90 Days Legacy Swimming Pool' is up and running but whether our athletes would have an advantage is another matter.
The hostels at UNZA should be ready in anticipation of many arrivals today with Nkoloma Stadium getting in shape ahead of the opening ceremony tonight.
Kambwili attributed the delay to the past Government's failure to start a single project despite having signed the protocol to host the Games and to the tedious tender procedure which he said should be revised.
The minister, who assumed office in February this year, said the tender and procurement process took about three to five months before the contracts for construction and rehabilitation of various sports facilities could start.
I hope something could be done to avoid doing things at the last second.
Appreciation needs to be given to our Chinese friends for their 24-hour work attitude which saw them complete the swimming pool in a record three months and should today hand over a complete dressing room at Nkoloma.
Commendation should also go to Ministry of Works and Supply project structural engineer in the Buildings Department, Madam Chimfwembe Mfula together with her team for their efforts and commitment towards ensuring we have infrastructure in place to host the Games.
I received an email from Chris Kampamba who said 'Great article on whether we are ready to host the Games. I wish there was a way to produce a checklist to help them focus and ensure a safe delivery'.
Thanks Chris for the email.
Lastly, the MTN-FAZ League awards were held on Wednesday where various players and officials were awarded but the plea still remains for other corporate bodies to come in and help promote soccer in the country, especially by reviving or launching new cup competitions in a bid to boost our sport.