Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture’s ambitious nationwide football and netball talent identification programme has failed to roll out since its launch in April because government is yet to release K200 million funding.
The project, aimed at identifying talent in rural areas through offices of football director Kinnah Phiri, and netball director Mary Waya, was supposed to be conducted between May and October 2019, from district to national level.
District sports officers were expected to spearhead the project by identifying talent through mini-tournaments.
Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) chairperson Raphael Humba, who was entrusted with the responsibility of supervising football talent identification in his area, confirmed that the exercise is in limbo.
“All the districts had their first meetings on the project and they submitted their proposals to the government. What remains now is for the government to release funds so that the exercise should start at district level. But if the funds will not be released this month, then we have to extend its time-frame,” he said.
Phiri and Waya said they were still hoping government will fund their projects.
“We are hopeful that government will fund this project. At the moment, we are going to find venues for the exercise in all districts because we have ready teams in the communities,” Phiri said.
Waya on the other hand referred the matter to director of sports Jameson Ndalama, saying: “Ask the director of sports because we had a meeting on the project today and he is better-placed to give proper answers.”
Ndalama yesterday attributed the delays to the recent post-election developments, especially cabinet changes that saw former sports minister Grace Chiumia being replaced by Francis Phiso.
He, however, said the project is still intact only that the implementation period will be changed.
“We are currently seeking guidance on how we can go about it. But the program is still intact and will start soon,” he said but could not tell the exact dates.
When asked where funding for the project will come from considering that the initiative has not been catered for in the current provisional budget, Ndalama could not give specific details.
“I have to confirm with the planning section [of the ministry] first before I can give such specific details,” he said.
The project will focus on communities that are hardly involved in active competitions.
It is expected to produce parallel Under-20 football and netball national teams. Then, the teams will play against the senior national and foreign teams to test their capabilities and expose their talents.