SPORTS Minister Chishimba Kambwili has said the Patriotic Front (PF) Government attaches great importance to the development of sport in the country as evidenced from its increased funding to the sector since assuming office two years ago.
Kambwili said his Government since assuming power in 2011 has increased the budgetary allocation from the previous K43 million to K67 million with a proposed increment of about K120 million, which includes sports development in next year’s Budget.
He said the Michael Sata-led Government realised the economic and unifying roles that sport plays.
The Minister said this at the Soccerex African Forum, that came to an end here yesterday under the theme ‘Sports and Government’, that it was sad that sport was not being given the necessary attention by the previous Government who had set aside an allocation of K43 million.
Kambwili said it was sad that sport was regarded as a by-the-way the previous regime and that money allocated to the Ministry of Sports was so little which meant associations were inactive due to less sports development.
He said his Government decided to pump in more money into the ministry because it realises the important role sports plays in unifying the 73 tribes in Zambia including the different political parties.
But Kambwili said Government alone cannot manage to effectively run the affairs of sports without the involvement of the private sector who he challenged to play a bigger role in youth development.
He said the private sector has on many occasions been hesitant to invest in sports because they were not sure of the revenue they would get with most of them only wanting to associate themselves with sports when victory has been attained.
“The problem we have is a situation where some companies are not willing to partner with you but would rather come on board when success has been achieved. The sense of belonging is just not there.
A good example is when we were going for the 2012 AFCON finals, no one was willing to help out but when we won, everyone wanted to be associated with the Chipolopolo,” he said.
Kambwili said sport was unique as it brings with it high productivity when results were forthcoming and urged the private sector to play a bigger role in sports development as Government alone cannot manage to sustain sport.
And Kambwili said good political will from the Zambian Government has been key in most sports associations performing well at the international stage adding that nothing can be achieved without the political will.
He said Government, through an Act of Parliament, created the Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) to run affairs of sports associations adding that a National Sports Policy has been put in place to legislate how associations should be operate, bearing in mind their affiliations with the international bodies.
“You cannot separate politics from sports but you just have to know where the boundaries lie to avoid getting in conflict but should always aim at achieving a common goal aimed at developing the sport,” he said.
Nigerian Sports Minister, Mallam Abdullahi said Governments should play the role of co-ordination and facilitation and should not be involved in the day-to-day running of the federations.
Ghanaian Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah said there was need for the Government and sports federations to find a common goal of working together because sport was an important tool in unifying a nation.