GOVERNMENT and the National Sports Council of Zambia (NSCZ) on Saturday shunned the arrival of the victorious Zambia senior netball team from Botswana where the team qualified to its maiden World Cup in Australia.
The team arrived at the Intercity bus terminus after 18:00 hours from Botswana aboard a Zambia-Botswana bus together with other passengers.
To their surprise, there was no official from the Ministry of Sports and the NSCZ to welcome them after qualifying Zambia to the Netball World Cup show piece to be hosted by Australia in August next year.
Netball Association of Zambia (NAZ) president Gertrude Mukumi confirmed the absence of the officials from welcoming them.
However, Mukumi could not comment further saying she did not know the reasons why the ministry and the NSC Z did not send any official to receive the team after qualifying to its maiden netball World Cup.
She said the Zambia national netball team beat all teams and lost only to Uganda to qualify to the World Cup next year.
“We are happy with Pastor (Peter) Makembo and his team; they did a great job in welcoming us from Botswana,” said Mukumi.
To qualify, Zambia beat the hosts Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland among others and lost to Uganda.
However, Zambia Sports Fans Association chairman Makembo with his band were on hand to welcome the netball team.
Makembo described the action by both the Ministry of Sports and NSCZ officials to shun the team as a disaster.
“This is a disaster on the part of government and the National Sports Council of Zambia. They have shown segregation in the manner they run sports. I have to remind them that this is the first time we are qualifying to the Netball World Cup and they needed to be there to welcome the team because of its achievement,” said Pastor Makembo. He said government should always “play equity” in the manner they treated teams representing the country, adding that it was disappointing that teams which brought honour to the country were not considered important apart from soccer.
“Government is choosing in the manner they treat sports. No one from the ministry or even the NSCZ came to welcome the team. I need these people to explain why they did not come over to welcome the victorious netball team?” demanded Makembo. Makembo said sports were not soccer alone but also other disciplines.
“I am protesting against this conduct by the ministry and NSCZ. They should explain why they did not chatter a bus for them. Why should they jump on the same bus with members of the public when they were on national duty? Why use public transports?” he wondered.
Efforts to get a comment from the NSC Z chairman Mwamba Kalenga refused to comment on the matter, saying the Daily Nation should get in touch with his secretary general.