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Kalusha Bwalya: Set to take Zambian football development and glory to a new level

Date: Mar 27 2008
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FROM the dusty, thinly grassed and patchy playing fields of Mufurila, to the legendary arena of Shinde and the fortress that he helped make of Lusaka’s Independence stadium, to the bright lights of the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven and the giant and historical 120,000 seat Azteca in Mexico, he has criss-crossed the planet in pursuit of one trade which is dear to his life .
He has dazzled crowds and millions of Zambian and international soccer lovers and followers with his magic left foot. His wicked left kick ranked him among the world’s best dead-ball specialists of his era.
For his dedication to the game and input to advancing nationwide enhancement of the sport that is so cherished by millions of Zambians, he has been honoured by Presidents Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa.
In official Zambian government designation, he is a diplomat.
In the authoritative CAF record books, he is the 1988 African Footballer of the Year, to the chroniclers of FIFA’s history, he was ranked 14th best player in the world in 1996 and is one of the top administrators of the global game.
To the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), he is an icon who can help contribute to getting drugs out of football.
To the 2010 FIFA World Cup organising committee, he is a great ambassador.
In modern day African football chronology, he is in the special class of the best 10 players CAF unveiled as having been outstanding in Africa over the last 100 years.
Transforming from dazzling football lovers with his extraordinary skills, the European soccer governing body acknowledged his passion, love and dedication to the game – taking him through a three year top level administrators’ course, certifying him proficient to manage or superintend over football matters at any level of the sport.
Graduating from the pitch and the technical bench, he was elected to share the table with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the heavyweights of the global game’s administrators’ elite in charting the way for global football development across FIFA’s 208 national affiliate associations.
Not to be undone or fail to tap from his extensive international experience, administrative expertise and ability to contribute effectively to the advancement of the game, CAF elected him to no less than two of its administrative committees.
Over the last four years, he has served as Vice President of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) contributing effectively to taking Zambian football forward.
Born August 16 1963 in the Copperbelt mining town from where he started his life-long journey of football, Kalusha Bwalya today stands on the doorstep of taking over the mantle of heading Zambian football and taking Zambia’s number one sport to a whole new level of development and glory.
He faces a challenge from Teddy Mulonga and Hanif Adams.
However, his undisputed love for the game, clear vision, programme and plans to take Zambian football to higher levels of competition locally, continental glory and global positioning towers above his competitors.
It is that experience and proficiency that he wants to bring to FAZ through the Presidency. His football blueprint, the only bankable tool he has been expounding to councillors makes him the obvious choice for the FAZ top position.
Without doubt, the new FAZ president should be a man who has the power to turn things around, is influential both on and off the field both at home and abroad and will be able to move the national soccer governing body into a viable commercial direction that should help make it financially sound as seen in other associations around the world.
It requires a man who will amass popular support among FAZ councillors to garner the required vote. It requires a man who will enjoy good post election working relations and support, a man who will instil confidence in government and defrost state financing which was frozen following the Ghana 2008 Nation Cup; a man in whom chief executives and business proprietors, leaders and other movers and shakers will recognise, want to associate, sit with at a table and get money into the national teams, the leagues, development structures and expand on all aspects that should move our game forward.
It requires a man who understands football – a man who knows what the players need to be highly motivated into outstanding performances, a man who understands the need for right enumeration for players and coaches, a man who understands that other than making the players happy and getting them to die a little for mother Zambia, knows the importance of training and motivating technical teams such as coaches, managers, physicians and other backroom staff who do the donkey work to get the results on and off the pitch. A man with Zambia at heart!
The search for that personality brings us to the one man who knows what it means to play football, who knows what it means to be on the technical bench, a man who knows what it means to be a proficient administrator, a man who has the required international exposure and experience to galvanise local and international corporate organisations, partners and sponsors to help put Zambia on the right track to development and glory. A man who understands and appreciates team work and is committed to tapping into the expertise of each member of his team. A man who prides his image on accountability, transparency and dedication to duty. A man who has a clear vision and plan for football development.
That bill and profile of what the councillors should look for as fits none other than Kalusha Bwalya.
Arguably, Zambia’s greatest footballer of all time, Kalusha Bwalya has over the last five years steadily risen through the football administrative ranks of local and world football.
Since his humble beginnings from Mufurila to dazzling world football at Seoul in 1988 where his leadership in the demolition of world champions Italy and outstanding tournament display won him the 1988 African Footballer of the Year, Kalusha graduated from winning 100 caps and scoring 50 for Zambia to learning the skills of the technical bench and administration in the mentioned various training programmes across the UEFA zone, CONCACAF region and applying them locally and everywhere FIFA and CAF duties have demanded.
The 1996 African Nations Cup Golden Boot Winner today serves on five FIFA committees and two CAF teams. His experience in world and continental football administration are attributes that have helped enhance his skills as a manager and leader of the game.
Working with his colleagues in the outgoing Mulonga executive, several ideas and initiatives have today seen the executive committee secure sponsorship deals for the country’s Super Division teams, a development will see Zambian top clubs receive no less than US $25,000 each per season and have local games beamed live on the popular Super Sport channels. Other sponsorship deals which should benefit all lower league teams are in the offing.
Of all the candidates, he is the only one whose life is all about football and was pleased to be involved in securing Super Sport and KCM league sponsorship, Hummel and Nike dressing for Zambia national teams which today are recognised as among the best dressed squads on the continent. In announcing his candidature, he outlined his love and vision for Zambian football – how to improve the administration of the game, viable commercialisation and marketing of the game, and the need for a strong leader who can turn things around, get FAZ running financially well, tap into youth talent countrywide and develop structures that should provide a strong base for the national teams. He has a clear blue print to wean the Chipolopolo Boys off the FAZ annual budget – a first for Zambian football.
His candidature should not only be welcomed by the FAZ councillors but entire football family because it is for the good of the game. All over the world, football federations and continental federations have turned to players who are forming what is seemingly turning into a special club of interaction by electing former super stars to administer football. And that is producing wonderful results.
From Michel Platini who is now head of UEFA, to Karl Heinze Rummenige and Franz Beckanbauer in Germany, Abedi Pele at the helm of the Ghana FA, to Mali’s FA boss Keita, Egypt, Nigeria and a host of other teams across Africa and the world, the trend is taking a global shape.
On the home front, Kalusha clearly spells out what he intends to do regarding national team commercialisation and sponsorship as well as youth and development structure. He has provided a blueprint for transforming the league and help it spin cash to help bankroll it; he has set the tone of what should be a successful route to Angola and South Africa in two years time.
As the councillors go to the polls on March 29, it is important to bear in mind that the president they vote for should be one who is a uniting factor, a national figure who will not only win back state support and funding but will bequeath the nation his acumen to bring money into the game. Councillors should look at the man who has been on the pitch, understands the needs of the players, the cry of the coaches, the motivation of technical teams, and referees and other backroom players.
FAZ needs the man who will not be a loner, a man who has demonstrated leadership and administrative proficiency, a man who will be identified at the regional and international levels both at CAF and FIFA and has the ability to woo the support football needs. FAZ needs a man who will work with the local football community, a man who will command the respect of his committee and together with the corporate world develop our game.
Therefore, the March 29 AGM is not about mere wish to be president, its about moving the game forward and taking it to a highly desired self-sustaining commercial level with the ultimate goal of getting our local football on the track to success which should ultimately translate into the Chipolopolo ruling Africa and making the trip to SA2010 where anything should be possible.
With a closer look and scrutiny of all the candidates– Kalusha, Adams, and the comparison of Mulonga’s two terms, only one man can take us forward and make in his nickname make Zambia Great.
It remains for the councillors to make that dream a reality by voting for Kalusha Bwalya!