John Kaunda: Rangers’ legend, turf inspector

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“>via Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 6/7/13

KAUNDA leading ball boys to the pitch during an international game at Nchanga Stadium in Chingola.

KAUNDA leading ball boys to the pitch during an international game at Nchanga Stadium in Chingola.

HE burst into the Nchanga Rangers dressing room at Lusaka’s Woodlands Stadium last Saturday at the end of their match against Napsa Stars and told off the players for the lacklustre attitude.
John Kaunda was not impressed with Rangers’ passing game, which did not materialise as they ended up 1-0 losers to unfancied Napsa in a round 11 fixture.
The players must have been perplexed by how  this stranger spoke with so much authority and passion about the team without being restrained.
Apart from coach Fighton Simukonda, team manager Patrick Nkhata, official John Mukwangu and assistant coach Elijah Tana, the players probably took Kaunda for a frustrated soccer fan until he gave them insight of how the team came to be called ‘Brave’ Nchanga Rangers – because of the fighting spirit.
Kaunda played with Mukwangu and Nkhata in Rangers’ golden generation, which won the first league title in 1980, followed by Tana’s intake, which bagged the second championship in 1998.
Rangers have been playing sweet soccer under the tutelage of the Chingola-born and bred Simukonda but seem to lack the cutting edge.
Former goalkeeper Kaunda was among hundreds of Rangers’ faithfuls who thronged Woodlands Stadium to cheer their dream team, only to be disappointed by losing to a Napsa side, who are still gasping for breath in the Super Division.
Kaunda was visibly disappointed and having spent 11 years in the Rangers’ changing room, he could not resist telling off the players, whom he accused of lacking ambition.
Kaunda, aka JK during his heyday, was born on March 28, 1949 in Chingola. His father, John Kaunda senior, was a miner and his mother, Lucy Mwansa Kapapula, was a housewife.
He is second in a family of three – two brothers and a sister, Kapinda, their first born.
Kaunda went to Chingola Central and Matelo for his primary school, then qualified for Form One (Grade Eight) at Mushishima Secondary School in 1962.
Late director of sports Musa Kasonka taught Kaunda at Mushishima.
Kaunda started out as a basketballer with the famous Nchanga A but interacted with players from Nchanga Rangers Football Club.
In fact, some senior players at Rangers such as Ernest Katongo and Valentine Mulenga (both goalkeepers) were his best friends.
Katongo, who was the first choice goalkeeper, got injured before a high-profile fixture against Mufulira Wanderers while Mulenga’s sight was adjudged not to be good under floodlights.
Rangers were forced to rope in Kaunda and the basketballer excelled on his debut in the match the Chingola giants won 1-0 at Shinde Stadium in 1969.
Kaunda, who was in the basketball national team, continued doubling by playing soccer and basketball.
It was a trend that time during the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines era for sportsmen to multi-skill but specialise in one discipline.
The Nkole brothers – Abraham and Patrick – played basketball in Mufulira, Moses Simwala did the same in Kitwe for Rhokana, and Godfrey Chitalu and Sandford Mvula for Kabwe Cats before settling for soccer.
The star-studded Rangers’ squad coached by John Gold comprised Geoffrey Mulenga, Elias Chongo, Patson Simfukwe, Jacob Chama, Willie Phiri, Dave Sande, Patrick Nkhata, George Matete, Godfrey Ngosa, Anthony Bwali, Morris Mwape and Joseph Mukwangu.
Kaunda played for Rangers from 1969 up to 1980.
Winning the league in 1980 represents his most prestigious silverware in his soccer career.
He also won the Shell and Challenge Cup in 1973 and 1976, the Heroes and Unity Cup in 1975 and the Independence Cup in 1978.
Kaunda was also league runner-up with Rangers in 1972.
The net minder was under the shadows of Emmanuel Mwape, voted Africa’s best goalkeeper at the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, until 1975.
Mwape fell out of coach Ante Buselic’s favour during Mozambique’s independence celebrations tournament in Lourenço Marques (Maputo), as it was known before independence.
Mwape misbehaved and was expelled from the tournament, giving rise to Kaunda, who dominated the sticks between 1975 and 1981 when he retired from soccer.
Kaunda said he had to be on top of his game because at the time, Zambia had very good goalkeepers who eagerly awaited their turn to don the number one jersey.
Contestants for the Zambia One jersey during Kaunda’s reign included Vincent Chileshe, Johnstone Katowando, Ken Mwape and Michael ‘Spinks’ Bwalya.
After his debut in Mozambique, he was also between the sticks against Malawi for the Africa Cup qualifier match, was in the team that beat Lesotho 12-1 and drew 0-0 with Egypt in Cairo.
He was credited for helping Zambia qualify for the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana when he saved a penalty against Algeria in the return leg at Lusaka’s Independence Stadium. Zambia had lost 2-0 in Algiers but won 2-0 in Lusaka.
Kaunda saved the last penalty to send Zambia to Ghana, where he was the first choice goalkeeper.
He said there was pride in donning the national team jersey, as there were no allowances.
Players also gave themselves tasks, with strikers bragging to score many goals, defenders promising to thwart their opponents and goalkeepers pledging never to let in goals.
The goalkeeper, who was imposing between the goalposts and exuded confidence of saving shots with one hand, retired in 1981 after an injury he sustained at John Yumba Kachofa Stadium during a match against Mufulira Blackpool.
He was Godfrey Chitalu’s roommate most of the time.
“Even outside [national team], he was my best friend,” he said of Chitalu.
Kaunda went into coaching and took over at Division Two KB Davies within Chingola, where he coached, among other players, Fighton Simukonda and late George Chikokola.
He coached KB Davies for four years without much success and moved to UBZ in Kitwe. UBZ was later re-named Wheels Raiders and shifted to Luanshya, where Kaunda trained, among other players, Chishimba Kambwili [Minister of Sports], who was one of his goalkeepers.
Kaunda also groomed Takky Shawa, George Chilongo, Evans Mulala, John Banda and Fidelis Chanda (who is now at Inter-city bus terminus).
He also coached Allan Kamwanga and Peter Chitila at Raiders.
The former acrobatic goalkeeper also groomed Derrick Katongo, Fred Musonda, Friday Mwansa, among other net minders.
From Wheels, Kaunda returned to Chingola to train Chiwempala Leopards for a season only.
He went back to Luanshya to mentor Zamefa and re-joined Raiders until the liquidation of the sponsoring firm, UBZ, in 1996.
Kaunda also had a stint with Kitwe United, whom he coached to Division One before handing over the team to Peter Kaumba.
During his stint with Rangers, Kaunda was an apprentice in the fitting plant.
At KB Davies, a company dealing in mining supplies, petrol-diesel engines, full spares and workshops, he trained as a heavy-duty mechanic.
At parastatal bus company UBZ, he was responsible for breakdown services while at Zamefa (Metal Fabricators of Zambia), the manufacturers of copper rod, bare copper wires, winding wires, low voltage power cables, overhead aluminium conductors, building wires, flexible cables and telecommunication wire, he was just employed as a coach, just like at Chiwempala.
He works for the Football Association of Zambia as artificial turf inspector. He did a course with FIFA in Botswana on turf inspection.
A trained goalkeeper coach, Kaunda runs an academy in Ibex Hill, where he lives.
Ibex Rangers, his academy, produced Musonda Munaile and his son, Chibesa Kaunda, who plays for Green Buffaloes.
Kaunda is happy that clubs have finally embraced the concept of having goalkeeper trainers as it is a special skill.
He has been married to Susan for almost 41 years and they had 14 children but eight have died.
They have nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
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