FIRST Republican President Kenneth Kaunda will spearhead Zambia’s campaign to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after being appointed the nation’s bid ambassador.
Sports Minister, Chishimba Kambwili announced Government’s appointment of Kaunda during a colourful 2013 MTN-FAZ Super League Awards Gala Night at Moba Hotel in Kitwe on Wednesday.
Kambwili said to ensure that Zambia was awarded the right to stage the continent’s prestigious football showpiece, Government decided to appoint Kaunda to lead the 2019 AFCON bid and help to woo support from other countries.
He said as the nation was fighting to win the 2019 AFCON bid, Government was leaving nothing to chance to ensure the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awarded Zambia the right to organise the event.
“As we bid for the 2014 AFCON bid, which I am sure we are going to be awarded because I have never started a crusade and failed, we are going to appoint Dr Kaunda as our ambassador for the 2019 AFCON bid,” he said.
By being appointed the country’s ambassador for the 2019 AFCON bid, Kaunda would be tasked with the responsibility of visiting all countries affiliated to CAF so that they could give their support to Zambia.
The minister was confident that with the appointment of Kaunda, the country was on course to host the first-ever AFCON tournament on Zambian soil.
Zambia is competing for the right to host the 2019 edition with Algeria, Cameroun, Ivory Coast, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The final vote for the 2019 AFCON hosts will be conducted by the CAF executive committee in September this year, giving each bidding country adequate time to prepare for the arrival of the CAF’s inspection team to check on the facilities.
And Kambwili has challenged the business community to step up their corporate social responsibility by investing in sport through sponsoring of football tournaments to help strengthen the local league.
He singled out Zambian Breweries, Puma Energy Corporation, Pepsi Cola and Airtel as among several other corporate companies that should take up the challenge of sponsoring cup tournaments in the country.
Kambwili said Zambia could only attain higher performance in football if the local league was strong and competitive.
“This is why I want to appeal to companies like Zambia State Insurance Corporation and Zamtel to quickly revisit their sponsorship to Zamsure ‘Tamanga Boys’ and Zamtel Football clubs,” Kambwili said.
He thanked MTN for their continued support to football development in the country, saying the sponsorship of the Premier League had greatly contributed to motivating many youths to work hard at their respective clubs.
Kambwili said Government attached a lot of importance to sports and recreation because of its significant role in shaping the fabric of the nation and building of the physical and mental faculties of the citizens all of whom were critical to national development.
He said this was why Government had endeavoured to continue increasing the budgetary allocation towards construction of ultra-modern sports facilities aimed at promoting sports and recreation in the country.
Kambwili disclosed that Government had effective this year, embarked on a multi-discipline community sports development promotion programme designed to enable all citizens to participate in physical activities.
He said Government would endeavour to create a conducive environment to enable the private sector to effectively participate in sports development.
MTN chief executive officer, Abdul Ismail pledged the mobile phone service provider’s continued sponsorship of the MTN-FAZ super league and the national team in the 2014 football season.
Ismail said MTN were in talks with FAZ to extend the sponsorship further because the company was inspired by the competitiveness of the league in the recent past as evidenced by the 2012 and 2013 champions who were determined on the last day of the season.
FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya said discipline was the key to success in football and urged Zambian footballers to observe high levels of discipline.
Times of Zambia