By Maurice Makalu
I totally agree with our gallant goalkeeper, Kennedy Mweene, that our exit from AFCON 2013 though sad, was dignified. We may not have played as good football as at AFCON 2012 but we surely did the best we could. You cannot fault the spirit, desire and determination; we went all out for it. Even on the bench it was the same. The Coach even listened to the public outcry to bench our ever inspirational Captain CK (not Calvin Klein, hello!).The players, the bench, the fans and the government, no one is to blame. There is just time for everything under the sun and this one was not for us.
So my suggestion that we rename the national soccer team is not out of bitterness and frustration but rather the direct opposite â inspiration. I feel inspired. And Proud! Not just by Chipolopolo but by Zambians in general and our spirit of excellence that lurks underneath in every one of us.
I should be a loyal fan not a muselela kwakaba (warm weather friend)
Feeling downcast and miserable following our elimination, I turned on my internet to post a comment on Facebook to mock the team and rub some salt into the wound. But something stopped me. Something told me that this was MY team. I was with them in 2012 glory; I needed to be with them in 2013 defeat. I told myself, âI should be a loyal fan not a muselela kwakaba (warm weather friend).â
I immediately stopped reading the negative comments about the team, logged out of Facebook and turned my attention to my email.
Zambians becoming better people
Earlier in the day, I had done a Business Name clearance search online on the PACRA website and I was pleasantly surprised: they had replied, accepting one of my proposed names.
I was not expecting this. I was expecting a perpetual non-reply. I thought the PACRA claim that you can do name search online was just typical civil servants claiming good things they do not actually do to please their political masters and create a smoke screen that they are doing something when in actual fact they do nothing.
The email showed they had replied in less than 2 hours of my search. Talk about efficiency! Of course, given that the sky is the limit and it is limitless, there can be no end to improvement. But somebody just needed to let them know. So feeling inspired by this excellent service, I emailed back saying, âThank you for the efficient work you do at PACRA and congratulations for such efficient use of modern technology.â
I decided I needed to travel to Ndola (from Chingola) to finish the Business Name registration the very next day, early in the morning. I could also take advantage and pass through RATSA to collect my driverâs license.
I was at Ndola RATSA at 07:57 and a good number of the staff was already in. At exactly 8am, they let us in and started attending to us at 8:15 sharp as per service pledge. I was the first one to collect my license and I was out within a minute or two. I said thank you to the clerk and he replied, âWelcome, SIR; AND HAVE A NICE DAY.â
I could feel pride well up within me and it felt good to be Zambian
I donât remember ever hearing this from a government worker. This punctuality and customer care is a preserve of the private sector where customer service makes or breaks you. So you must understand when I say I was inspired by Zambians even more.
There was already a long line at PACRA and I had to wait a good 30-45 minutes before it was my turn. Just when the gentleman got my papers to enter them in the computer, the lady next to him conferred with him, suggesting he first attends to a woman with a baby who was like 5-7 people behind me. I quickly said, âYes! Please clear her first. It should even be government policy that women with babies should never be made to wait in queues anywhere. Ever!â
I recently travelled to Nigeria (TB Joshua) via Ethopian Airlines. I noticed that the Ethopian and Nigerian immigration where always calling mothers with babies from queues, no matter how long the queue and how behind the mothers were, and taking them to the front. At Nigeria where there was a two-stage process with the two points slightly further apart, the immigration officer had to even escort the Zambian mother in our group to the stage-two stand and even there, straight to the front with instructions that she be cleared quickly because she should not be made to stand with a baby on her back.
I donât know about you but for me, small things like this touch me at the core. They reflect the best of the human spirit.
When I saw this in Ethiopia and Nigeria, I thought it could never happen in Zambia. And that thought was a little painful I must admit. My mind nearly veered off on the âWhatâs wrong with usâ line of thinking but for my alert self control. I did not want to spoil my pilgrimage with negativity about my people back home.
Little did I know that my painful thought was actually a prayer which PACRA would later answer to put icing on the cake of Zambian civil servants inspiring me and reminding me of the best in us, Zambians.
It does not end there. There was a lady who had been at PACRA the day before and had forgotten her receipt (which would have made it difficult for her to follow up her application). She was at PACRA again this day for a different reason. The PACRA stuff remembered her and gave her the receipt (They kept it for her!). She did not even realize she forgot it. Man, was she grateful!
It goes without saying, of course, that if they can pay attention to small things such as these and do their best at them, you can rest assured that they have the âbig thingsâ nailed. We are very proud of the professionals at PACRA â the open set up, the clear process, the responsiveness, the efficiency, the technology.
It was now time to pay. I took out my K50, K20, K10 and K5 notes (K85) and made sure the eagle faced the same direction (a habit you catch when you have worked for a bank). Yes; the eagle. That bird!!!
Every time I see it my mind thinks, âSoaring.â I think about excellence and indomitability no matter how trying the times or how daunting the challenge. When the eagle sees a storm coming, it does not run for safety. Rather, it perches itself on a stone and launches into the storm, riding it; soaring.
That is the spirit of the Zambian people; it is who we are. PACRA and RATSA demonstrated it and soared in customer service.
I could feel pride well up within me and it felt good to be Zambian. Within me, I stood and sung of Zambia Proud and Free.
The future of Zambian football
âChipolopolo should be renamed Soaring Eagles,â I found myself thinking. âWe are diversifying the economy and copper will one day no longer take centre stage in our economy. Before long, the new generation will not appreciate the power and symbolism projected by our national team being called âCopper Bullet.ââ
Or if âChipolopoloâ is to mean that we are âfightersâ who pierce the enemy and they drop dead, like the Elephants in AFCON 2012, there are sure enemies out there with body armor we cannot pierce and others we will miss due to bad aiming or misfiring. Therefore, I think that the imagery of the eagle soaring above the storm would work better to inspire our team for the future. It would mean that instead of just fighting harder every time the game is tough, we should try fighting smarter. The eagle is both tough and smart: tough to weather the storm, smart to soar above it.
When the eagle sees a storm coming, it does not run for safety. Rather, it perches itself on a stone and launches into the storm, riding it; soaring.
At AFCON 2013, we were all just fight, fight, fight harder. I never saw much tactics. And it really hurt in the Ethiopia game where it was clear that they shut us out through the middle and yet could not switch to wing play. Do we even have any established wingers?!
Come Brazil 2014, we will be Soaring Eagles! We will unleash the âbeastâ of excellence inert within us. Go Zambia, go!
Going forward, I would like to appeal to sponsors of our Division One clubs to invest more in modern training facilities. I think that we should strive to reach a stage where we form our national team just from two or three league clubs. Having all eleven players come from eleven different clubs also contributed to our poor performance.
It means the players donât know each otherâs movements because they donât play together a lot. With Sunzu leaving TP Mazembe where he was with Hichani Himoonde, I see our defense weakening. I can think of two incidents in the Burkina Faso game where Mayuka and Mbesuma went for the same ball. Obviously because they donât know how to play together.
Having all eleven players come from eleven different clubs also contributed to our poor performance
It was also clear we missed the leadership of Katongo on the pitch. I could see Mweene struggle on top of his voice to communicate to Mayuka and Mbesuma to retreat out of offside positions when we had the ball. Club team mates can help in such situations as they would either release the ball early because they would understand the striker, or because of rapport from playing together at the club, they would easily advise their colleague or even rebuke him with no hurt feelings.
I am aware Mali are called Eagles, Nigeria Super Eagles and Tunisia Eagles of Carthage, so calling ourselves Soaring Eagles might sound as if we are copying. But we will just be aligning ourselves with a symbol that is loved among us, one that inspires the whole nation and is part of both our past and our future.
I see us rebuilding the team, giving more and more starting roles to new blood and benching the experienced fellas. Come Brazil 2014, we will be Soaring Eagles! We will unleash the âbeastâ of excellence inert within us. Go Zambia, go!