Local teen footballers get ‘chance of a lifetime’
August 11, 2017
Zambian teenage talents plying their soccer trade with top Konkola Copper Mines football teams who were recently conscripted into a football academy in India have given testimonies of having a moment of their lifetime.
Oscar Mulenga and Christopher Katongo, aged 14 and 15, respectively, were awarded a four-year international residential training course in preparation for careers in professional football at the renowned Sesa Football Academy (SFA) in Goa in April, 2017.
The teens are excited at their journey into professional football and are relishing the competition, skills development and cultural exposure that they have experienced while playing abroad.
Christopher says, “we practice communication, passing drills and crossing. We are also currently studying at the open school between training sessions.”
“We don’t miss home that much because the people in India are taking good care of us. We occasionally miss family and our staple food (nshima, which is made out of ground maize), but all in fine,” he adds.
“Our daily routine is good, we play football and relax with other colleagues. I also like the beaches of Goa, they are good and quite relaxing,” Oscar says.
Head of Operations and Administration at the SFA, Melroy Moura, believes that the Zambian youth exports are a worthwhile addition to the Indian football academy.
“They are coping really well and we are amazed by their talent. Their coaches like them and they have gelled really well with the Indian boys,” he says.
Back home, Oscar Mulenga’s father, Francis Mulenga, says that he is proud with his son’s achievements this far.
“We are so happy as a family. His mother and I are focused on reminding him to balance his education and football while he is abroad.”
Officials at the clubs the teenagers were recruited, Konkola Blades and Nchanga Rangers, are equally thrilled with the outcome.
“We are very elated by the development and it is very positive for us. As they mature, the boys will be assets both for their clubs and Zambian football,” says Davy Mubita of Konkola Blades.
Seasoned Nchanga Rangers team manager Patrick Nkhata believes that KCM’s decision to invest in youth talent is a major step for the development of local football especially that the country has fewer football support programmes that provide emphasis on balance between academics and sport.
“As a company, it is one step forward in our support of local football. It gives us another dimension to football sponsorship and sponsoring the youth is the future,” says KCM Community Relations Manager Brian Siatubi.