Zambia: We will not drop the ball, says FAZ president Andrew Kamanga. And Kamanga says FAZ needed help understanding the furore around boots for the Copper Queens, especially after Puma handed all-weather boots to the players whilst in Germany before the FIFA World Cup kick-off.
In an interview with the FAZ Media Team in Hamilton, Kamanga says building on the milestone after the historic qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be important.
The Copper Queens are in the heat of a debut FIFA World Cup tournament that has seen them record 5-0 losses to Japan and Spain, respectively, with a final Group C match set for Monday against Costa Rica, where they will be playing for pride.
“What is key is we will not drop the ball as it were. We obviously must build on the experiences we have learnt. Going forward, we are happy that part of our strategy has been to prepare the teams adequately; we have never shied, we have never failed, and we believe that by continuing that path, we should be able to get the desired results,” he says.
The FAZ chief in the company of FIFA boss Gianni Infantino for the opening Group C match against Japan in Hamilton says the world cup experience has been a learning curve.
“The outing for us has been a learning experience, but also it is important to state that whatever has happened has not been an accident. It has come on the back of hard work from everybody, and I must at this point thank all the clubs in Zambia who have contributed to getting their players into the national team, everyone who has been involved in managing the various national teams at under-17, under-20, and the senior national team,” Kamanga says.
“Also, the administration where we have invested quite a lot in ensuring that football is played in all the provincial centres as well as introducing the national leagues for women, which is part of the ZPL (Super League and National Division One).”
Kamanga says the injury incidences to two key players (Hazel Nali and Grace Chanda) before the World Cup had affected the team’s chances at the tournament.
“Prior to getting into the tournament…we had to lose our first-choice goalkeeper who was ruled out on account of injury, and initially there was an initial attempt to quickly get her back into Zambia so that we arrange surgery for her to go to India, but the ministry overruled that position and indicated that they will take over and ensure that the surgery is done here in New Zealand,” he says.
“We also lost the vice-captain Grace Chanda through illness; she was ruled out of the competition. As you would expect, the team has 23 players, and three are on standby. We quickly had to adjust and make amendments to the team, and hopefully, in the last game against Costa Rica, the team will be able to get good results.”
Kamanga has urged the corporate world to take advantage of the opportunities created by the world cup appearance to invest in game sponsorship.
“It now remains our hope that going forward, we will see a lot of support from the corporate world to invest as well as partner with FAZ to get a broadcast partner as well as a headline sponsor for women’s football,” he says.
“We have reached a point where we are not going to look back; we just have to continue investing in capacity building. We have invested a lot in training women coaches; through CAF, we will have a CAF A Course for women, and we expect that those who are exceptional will also be allowed to go for further training and get the CAF Pro licence.”
The FAZ boss says it would be regressive to miss out on the next WAFCON and Olympics after setting a high bar with world cup qualification.
“So, for us, the only way we are going to sustain what we have achieved is even to work harder because suddenly we have put a marker that achieving a world cup qualification is now a minimum. So, we expect that going forward, the team will also do well and qualify for the Olympics 2024, we also have the Africa Cup coming up we expect that the team will also qualify to the 2027 World Cup, so our work is already cut out,” he says.
“I think what is key is to make sure that we get as much money into women’s football as possible as we have tried with the men.”
Kamanga weighed in on the case of the boots that allegedly made it hard for the Copper Queens in the opening match against Japan, “I must state here that during the camp in Germany, we spoke to a few sponsors. In fact, Puma was gracious enough to give boots to the team because they launched the world cup all-weather boots. So, all the players were given all-weather football boots by Puma.”
He adds: “So we obviously could not understand the rationale around bringing in this argument that the team did not have boots, of course the ministry had a different view. But in terms of preparations and planning everything we did for equipment we were spot on.”
Kamanga says the future for the women’s game is bright, with more efforts expected to be pouted into growing the game.
“The future is very bright; we expect that the corporates will come on board; we also want to invest whatever additional resources we will receive from FIFA; we want to put as much of the resources into women’s football,” he says.
“It will be a shame for us to come to the world cup and then next Africa Cup and world cup we are not there. The bar has been raised too high, and we must meet that standard and continue to do well.”
Under Kamanga’s watch, the CoppeZambia: We will not drop the ball, says FAZ president Andrew Kamanga. And Kamanga says FAZ needed help understanding the furore around boots for the Copper Queens, especially after Puma handed all-weather boots to the players whilst in Germany before the FIFA World Cup kick-off.r Queens qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where they were the only team from Africa and have qualified for two successive Women Africa Cup of Nations (2018 & 2022) with the bronze medal for last year’s continental championship, a record achievement.
Zambia is also the reigning Cosafa Cup Women’s champions after winning the crown for the first time last year. Kamanga’s full interview will be available on the FAZ YouTube Channel.