ZAAA appoints Douglas Kalembo as national high performance coach

Samuel Matete - Zambia - World 400m Hurdles Champion in 1991

THE Zambia Amateur Athletics Association (ZAAA) has appointed athletics luminary Douglas Kalembo as national high performance coach, taking over the position that was initially offered to Samuel Matete.

Kalembo has been given the position after Matete failed to ink the contract ZAAA offered him in January this year.

The 53-year-old Kalembo has been one of Zambia most successful athletes and was part of the athletics team that went to the Seoul Olympics in South Korea in 1988 and was the country’s 400m and 800m champion for more than four years straight.

Kalembo takes up this position coming straight from the United States where he has been for more than two decades.

ZAAA president Elias Mpondela said at a briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the association decided to move on and not wait on for Matete, who was not taking up the position and to be stationed at the Olympics Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.

“Mr Matete has not taken up the post at OYDC. He seems to have refused to work and we cannot come to a standstill so we have Kalembo who is more committed and with credentials and ready. So he will be the high performance coach to be based at the OYDC,” Mpondela said.

The Matete-ZAAA tiff has been ongoing for a long time resulting in the association not having a coach for programmes that were agreed upon between the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the Federation of International Athletics Association (IAAF) at OYDC.

Mpondela said ZAAA still remained open to Matete once he had fully consulted and agreed to the contract that was given to him because he was a highly exposed person whose expertise were still needed especially in the developing of athletes.

He revealed that the Confederation of African Athletic Association (CAAA) offered Matete US$1,000 with ZAAA, in trying to further motivate the Zambian icon, topped up a similar amount, a combined figure that not even Kalembo will be enjoying.

The need for a trainer at the OYDC is further heightened after the IAAF upgraded the athletics section from a development centre to a high performance centre that will start with benefiting Zambians and later to carter for the entire continent.

“We needed someone who will live up to the challenges of this centre since the IAAF has rated this facility quite highly. And we could not have found a better person in terms of experience, competence and track record than this man (pointing to Kalembo).

He has trained in the USA, he has qualified athletes to the Olympics and they have won medals and he is very qualified,” Mpondela said.

Kalembo holds a Level-Four coaching certificate which is higher than the Level-Three that Matete possesses.

And Kalembo said he was taking up the offer not because he wanted to gain anything from it but to help develop athletics in Zambia.

Meanwhile, ZAAA also announced that McMillan Mwansa of Green Buffaloes and Mercy Kalunga from Green Eagles will represent Zambia at next month’s world acclaimed Dubai Marathon.

“We have selected the two athletes to take part in the Dubai marathon, this marathon is one of the best in the world and long distance runners from across the world take part and the winner in the men and female categories each takes home US$250,000. We are hoping the two guys we are sending each win the K250,000 winners prize,” he said.

 Times of Zambia