Thursday, July 25, 2024

Open Letter to the President of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ)

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To: President, Football Association of Zambia (FAZ)

Subject: Proposal for an Evidence-Based Study to Revitalize Zambian Men’s Football

Dear Mr. Kamanga,

I trust this letter finds you well. As a dedicated advocate of Zambian football, a taxpayer, an expert in sports science and management, and Chair of the Zambian Institute of Sport (ZIS)—the only professional sports education institution in Zambia—I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the underperformance of our men’s national football team since our historic victory at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2012. I want to clarify that I have no ambitions for a position within FAZ but feel a professional responsibility and civic duty to state my position.

The recent poor performances against teams like Morocco and Tanzania, and the poor performance at the last AFCON, coupled with the lack of a substantial and evidence-based strategic plan to revamp Zambian men’s football, compel me to write this letter. Our fall from being a powerhouse in African football to an underdog struggling to qualify for major tournaments is alarming and necessitates urgent action. Football is crucial to Zambia, impacting our economy, society, and collective national psychology. Leveraging opportunities such as recruiting diaspora players, incorporating modern technologies like AI for football interventions, and fostering a collaborative approach with volunteers providing specialist support, such as video analysis and data analytics, should be considered. Moreover, we need a disruptive shift in mindset and culture within our football community.

As you are aware, I and other Zambian experts have, for several years, offered our support and expertise to your current administration and previous ones without much success. Therefore, I propose this structured and evidence-based approach publicly to ensure transparent engagement. This approach addresses the current challenges and sets our national team back on the path to success.

• Proposal for an Evidence-Based Study

I strongly recommend that FAZ engage a team of academic sports consultants from Zambia to conduct a comprehensive study aimed at generating actionable recommendations. We at the Zambia Institute of Sport can mobilize this effort at no fee. This study should include:

• Review of Case Studies:
What can we learn from the successful rebuilding efforts of football teams from countries such as Germany, Spain, Japan, and Morocco?
What key factors contributed to their resurgence and growth?

• Scientific Evidence and Literature Review:
How can we utilize existing scientific research and literature on sports performance, coaching methods, player development, and sports management?
How can we effectively draw from existing scientific and professional databases?

• Data Collection and Analysis:
How can we gather historical and current data on Zambian football to clearly ascertain the unique features of our game and suggest culturally relevant proposals?
How can we analyze player development, considering the roles of community academies such as Afrisport, Breakthrough Chiparamba, EduSport, and Bauleni Sports Academy (BUSA), which have produced AFCON players like Kalaba, William, Stopila, and Fyawo, and current world-class players like Barbara Banda and Rachel Kundananji?
How does the recruitment of diaspora players fit into this?
The study should also examine the role of schools and uniformed forces (Army, ZAF, ZNS, and Police) in player development, and contextual models for applying sports science interventions, strategies for international engagement, player performance, coaching standards, infrastructure, and support systems.
Some Key Focus Areas and Investigative Questions

• Talent Identification and Development:
How can we establish a comprehensive system of regional and national football academies with adequate support and resources?
How can we review and integrate football programs within school curriculums to create a seamless link with academies, ensuring the identification and nurturing of young talent?
What is the best way to connect these systems to the next level, such as club systems?

• Coaching and Training Methodologies:
How can we implement data-driven and contextually relevant coaching methods and continuous education programs for coaches?
How can performance analytics be used to monitor and enhance player development?

• Infrastructure and Facilities:
What local playing fields need identification and protection?
How can we invest in state-of-the-art regional training centers and high-quality playing fields?
How can we ensure facilities meet international standards to support optimal player training and development?

• Sports Science, Data Analytics, and Player Well-being:
How can we integrate contextually relevant sports psychology, injury management, and nutrition programs to enhance player performance and resilience?
How can we develop tailored fitness and rehabilitation programs from youth to senior age?
How can we centralize the use of AI and data analytics to enhance our game?

• Competitive and Development Exposure:
What is the strategy for recruiting and supporting diaspora players?
How can we organize regular international friendlies and tournaments to expose players to high-level competition?
How can we strengthen local leagues?
How can we foster partnerships with top football clubs globally for player exchanges and training opportunities?

• Community, Fan Engagement, and Fundraising:
What initiatives can we develop to build a passionate and supportive fan base at home and abroad?
How can we engage players in community outreach in Zambia and abroad?
How can we utilize the newly acquired status of world-class players for community engagement and fundraising?

• Cultural Shift:
What we do to achive a major cultural changes to move beyond the current thinking, culture, and behavior that have led to our current situation?

Conclusion
Mr. Kamanga, the current trajectory of our national football teams requires immediate and strategic intervention. By commissioning a detailed, evidence-based study, we can identify and implement the necessary reforms to restore our footballing prowess. Furthermore, addressing the success and potential of our women’s national team, which currently lacks proper structures and strategic support, is an opportunity that must not be missed. Their upcoming participation in the Olympics highlights the need for organized friendly matches and comprehensive preparation to avoid jeopardizing our performance on the global stage.

I am fully committed to contributing my expertise to this initiative and urge you to consider this proposal and take decisive action to ensure the future success of Zambian football. Together, we can build a robust system that not only elevates our national teams but also inspires future generations of Zambian footballers.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.

Yours sincerely,
Professor Oscar Mwaanga PhD
Chair, Zambian Institute of Sport

31 COMMENTS

  1. The sale of the mines did not only harm the local economy but affected sport too. The mines supplied more than fifty percent of players to the national team because it had a well organized sports structure. We started competitive football at a very young age….real competitive.. with clubs spread across townships manned by well qualified trainers. The mines were able to recruit credible coaches too and virtually run the FAZ secretariat mainly with fixtures…oh even transport for the national team. Today chimfulumfulu. By the way the mines even attached individuals to EPL clubs to learn how clubs make money for their operations.

  2. Author, you are suggesting a research into the football problems, meaning that all causes of the downfall should emerge from the research. But it appears you are already listing the causes before the research is done

    • well i suppose that is the whole essence of evidence based or rather, data driven solutions. you first identify the problem space.

  3. The councilors who vote know what to do at the next FAZ AGM. They’re capable of sorting out whatever issues that have caused Zambian football to sink to the lowest of rankings

    • The problem is there are divisions due bribes. I have been a FAZ councilor for some years. When comes to the open floor, the president will only give chance to a certain group.

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  4. The problem is very easy to solve. Andrew Kamanga has over stayed and become complacent. He needs to go and concentrate on his business. Secondly FAZ should be giving performance based contracts to these coached that should be terminated if the KPIs are poor. We are stuck with Shikulu until the world cup qualifiers are over according to his contract terms. That is why he even had the arrogance to exclude a player who scoring goals at his club over personal deference.

  5. ……….

    I also think there is need for a clearout of the kamanga clan from FAZ……….

    Andrew Kamanga claims to be a bussinessman…………??

    FAZ does not even have a web site……..what kind of a bussiness msn is he ???

    FAZ should jave a fully functioning web site for updates and were zambian football fans can buy zambian foot kit from any where in the world………

    The only conclusion from this is kamanga is a backwards bussinessman only intrested in his pockets……..

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  6. Simumvela chabe, abwezeleni atsamunda dziko, kulibe zomwe zikuchitika. Olo bola ikanga komaso Tizafa ndi njala.

  7. Research can help provide solutions. in Botswana for instance no one is allowed to coach the ‘league’ unless you hold the UEFA A certification…the results have been there for all to see..now you wonder why the zebras are difficult to beat…If you watched the Shepolopolo play Ghana..we were totally outhought and outclassed we were lucky we have raw talent that helped us cross the line…against Morocco again our ladies were in trouble… Even if we qualify to the World Cup can you envisage us say playing Spain?

    • You are talking rubbish about the women being outclassed and outthought by Ghana. Zambia under Bruce Mwape is the best team in Africa. Were it not for Motsepe putting his finger on the scale by banning Barbara Banda, and bribing the ref to give South Africa a fake penalty, our women would be African champions. Ghana are nothing, and have never done anything. If you prefer to be in the position of Ghana, than that of Zambia, go ahead and support them. Zambia has collapsed as a men’s football power because we do not have the mines to develop our players anymore. At the same time, illegal immigration to Europe is beginning to benefit West Africa, as the children of those immigrants, born and trained in Europe return to dominate African football

  8. The sale of our mines local economy but affected sport too. The mines supplied more than fifty percent of players to the national team because it had a well organized sports structure. We started competitive football at a very young age….real competitive.. with clubs spread across townships manned by well qualified trainers. The mines were able to recruit credible coaches too and virtually run the FAZ secretariat mainly with fixtures…oh even transport for the national team. Today it confusion. By the way the mines even attached individuals to EPL clubs to learn how clubs make money for their operations

  9. The sale of our mines local economy but affected sport too. The mines supplied more than fifty percent of players to the national team because it had a well organized sports structure. We started competitive football at a very young age….real competitive.. with clubs spread across townships manned by well qualified trainers. The mines were able to recruit credible coaches too and virtually run the FAZ secretariat mainly with fixtures…

  10. The problem is more complex than the author is putting it. The goose that laid the golden egg was sold off….we started playing organized football at the age of seven in mine townships.

  11. This website is full of sarcastic naysayers. The proposal from Oscar is excellent. That’s the approach the 1st world has used to get were they are in the various fields of human endeavour. Theory combined with well grounded research when applied to situations results in outstanding results. But her we are responding like old folks sitting around a fire drinking Chibuku whilst deliberating how many goats should be charged for an adultery case. Unbelievable!!!

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    • Oscar is trying to be too intellectual about an issue where intellectualism has never been the deciding factor. The truth of the matter is that we suffer because we do not have the mines to develop our players. That is it. Botswana have more money to spend on their players, and if they are showing improvement, that is why. We do not need a UEFA certificate. We already have enough Zambians who know about football. We just need to have a college of national coaches, where we come together every year, to agree on strategy, and then return to our various primary and secondary schools to implement that strategy. We also need to make proper balls and football shoes widely available, because you cannot develop ball control playing with a chimpombwa

  12. This is the problem with the men’s football team. Let us not condemn what is true just because it is unpalatable. That team is more of a Lubemba team with some invited Eastern cousins, which should be playing home games in Mansa. We lose because they lack physique and dedication. Physically and mentally strong players from areas in former British North Western Rhodesia (BNWR) should be included. If not, we should form an alternative team of players from BNWR, to be playing home games in Solwezi, Mongu and Choma. You will see the difference.

  13. I equally agree on the need to do a research and fix our problems. We seem to be lost of ideas and that is why we keep blaming wrong people. I think the whole system at FAZ is broken at the moment.

  14. We have more important things like loadshedding, exchange rate, price of goods and commodities, price of fuel etc to think about than football. Sports has taken a back seat in this economy.

  15. Standards in Zambia are falling in all spheres of life – leadership, economy, moral standards, sport and many other areas. We need to fix our leadership who will in turn fix the economy and promote high moral standards. Everything else will fall in place.

  16. This is not only for Kamanga’s faz but for national sports council of Zambia, all the football clubs including you the writer. You need to come together and find way on how are going to work depeneding on what you have just proposed

  17. Zambia is a poor country it can’t pay players we’ll Tanzania will go to the world cup bravo taiga stars plus president Samia well done u have betten the men..

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