Posted by: Norman Brook | May 22, 2009

International Inspiration in Zambia

I was especialy pleased to be invited by UK Sport earlier this month to travel back to Lusaka, Zambia, to undertake some consultancy work with Ken Black in connection with the London 2012 legacy programme titled International Inspiration writes Norman Brook.

Edusport Activity

Edusport Activity

The reason being that this was my fourth engagement with the Zambian sporting community, the other three dating back to 1995/1996 and I was keen to learn what had changed in the last 13-14 years. My first trip to Lusaka was with Andy Hansen, then of UK Sport and now the British Council’s lead officer for sport.  UK Sport had a small budget for international development that had been allocated for use in Zambia and the purpose of our visit was to meet with various Zambian stakeholders from sport, government and education to learn how the UK could best spend its resource in helping Zambia develop sport and physical education.

It was on this first trip that I met Mary Nicholls a UK volunteer from the Voluntary Servce Overseas (VSO) organisation who had a placement at the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ).  Mary had arrived in Lusaka expecting to take up an advisory development role at the Sports Council, but soon found herself being parachuted into the role of General Secretary by the then Director General at the Ministry of Sport.  I was to learn on my return trip that 14 years on a similiar situation existed at the Sports Council.  Mary now works for the London Development Agency (LDA) and is very much involved in preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.

My other two previous engagements with Zambian sport arose from our first trip.  We had discovered that the Minister of Sport had appointed a number of provincial sports development officers but that they had only been given limited resources and had received no training in their new roles.  My return visit was to conduct a training course for these sports development practioners.  The third engagement took place in the UK when a small group of sport and physical education specialists from Zambia flew to the UK for a study tour.  My role being to manage their interaction with UK stakeholders and to conduct a workshop that allowed them to prepare a report on what they had learned and how this could be applied in the Zambian context.

When I flew into Lusaka Airport earlier this month, I was expecting to see change as I knew the economy had improved since the early 1990s and that there was more political stability.  Arriving at the airport, I began to wonder if I would find things had changed, as it was exactly how I had remembered it in 1995/1996.  The journey to my hotel though was more encouraging. I got chatting to some business men who worked for a broadband service provider who were active in Zambia and saw it as an emerging market.  We passed new shopping malls where there were well known South African multi-nationals trading such as Shoprite and Mr Price.  People on the street looked smart and purposeful.  New buildings were under construction. All in all things seemed better.

Major Makupa, Captain Nasilele and Staff of the NSCZ meet with Elias Banda and Norman Brook

Major Makupa, Major Bwalya, Captain Nasilele of the NSCZ meet with Elias Banda and Norman Brook

The purpose of my visit was to meet up with a fellow Scot, Ken Black,  whom I have known for many years and had worked with before on training courses. We had even worked from the same building at Loughborough University and passed often on the stairs of the Beckwith Building.  Despite this we had not spent a lot of time together and I was keen to learn from him as he has become one a world leaders in making sport inclusive for people with a disability.  This particular trip was part of a consultation exercise on a sport for development training and accreditation project and would involve meetings with a range of Zambian stakeholders including many organisations that myself and Andy Hansen had met with during our first visit to Lusaka.

Our programme of meetings were arranged by Elias Banda who is UK Sport’s Zambian manager for the International Inspiration project.  I was really impressed with Elias and many of the other Zambian sports professionals I met on this visit.  Their level of knowledge of sport, sport development, sport for development and sports management was of the highest standard, They certainly knew what needed to be done to advance sport and sport for development in Zambia even though they lack the resources needed to deliver that development.  This for me was one of the biggest changes I noticed from my previous visits. On the previous trips we were the experts imparting knowledge to our Zambian colleagues.  On this trip they were our equals eagerly contributing to the discussion and debate on sport and sports development.

During this visit we met were a number of NGOs using sport as a development tool to deliver lifeskills training to young people including Edusport, Sport in Action, SCORE, Right to Play and NOWSPAR.  It was really pleasing to learn that these organisations are predominantly staffed by Zambians and that they are recruiting local volunteers, many of them peer leaders, to deliver sport and lifeskills training in the field.  They have been very successful at delivering community based sport assisted by external funding from their international organisations and donor partners.  It was also good to see UNICEF working in partnership with these organisations.

Elias Banda, Ken Black and Norman Brook meet with Joe Makano, Right to Play Zambia Director

Elias Banda, Ken Black and Norman Brook meet with Joe Makano, Right to Play Zambia Director

Our visit to the Sports Council was reminiscent of that in 1995/1996.  The Board of NSCZ had not met for a number of years and the organisation was being held together by three officers led by Major Margaret Mukupa who had been seconded from the Zambian Army.  Governance issues had led to the removal of the CEO and suspension of the Board with the seconded staff ensuring that the organisations basic functions continued.  On the positive side though the Minister of Sport, Hon. Kenneth Chipungu, held a launch of a new Sports Policy for Zambia, which we were privileged to attend, at which he announced that the NSCZ Board was being re-constituted and that the names of his nominees would be made public shortly.  

Ambassador Susan Sikaneta, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Sport, Youth & Child Development and Bessie Chelemu, Sports Development Officer, Ministry of Sport, Youth & Child Development spoke at the launch and presented a comprehensive sports policy that properly resourced could see major strides being made in sports development in the country.  The Director General of Sport, Bernard Nakachinda, ably acted as the Master of Ceremonies. 

With the FIFA World Cup 2010 taking part in neighbouring South Africa, Zambia is hoping to qualify for the finals.  If they do they will propel sport to the top of the Zamian public agenda and may well provide the motivation needed to persuade government to invest in the Minister’s comprehensive national sports policy.

International Inspiration, which is led by UK Sport in partnership with the British Council and UNICEF, aims to use the power of sport to transform the lives of millions of children and young people of all abilities, in schools and communities across the world, particularly in developing countries, through the power of high quality and inclusive physical education, sport and play.

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