President Edgar Lungu says the victory of the Zambia under-20 is a demonstration that in unity the country has the power to rise above all social, political and economic divides.
Speaking during the luncheon hosted in honor of the victorious under-20 national soccer team at State house this afternoon, President Lungu says the players have brought joy and great honor to the nation at a time when the country truly needs to be united than never before.
He says this is because some people have not recovered from the acrimony of campaigns which nearly destroyed the country.
President Lungu notes that Zambians cheered the team in unity regardless of tribe, political affiliation, color or religion.
He says this epitomized the unity that has existed in the country since independence.
And President Lungu says the achievements of the junior Chipolopolo on the football pitch has restored Zambia’s image as a great footballing nation.
President Lungu further states that the victory has revitalized the memory of the world of Zambia as one of the greatest footballing nations in Africa following the 2012 AFCON triumph by the senior national soccer team in Gabon.
The Head of State has however, cautioned the players to be weary of social temptations that come with their new acquired status and against rushing into signing professional contracts without consulting.
Below is the full speech
YOUR EXCELLENCY DR KENNETH KAUNDA, FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA;
MY LADY JUSTICE, MRS IREEN MAMBILIMA, THE CHIEF JUSTICE;
MR DAVIS MWILA, THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE PATRIOTIC FRONT PARTY;
HON CATHERINE NAMUGALA, FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY;
HON MOSES MAWERE, MP, MINISTER OF YOUTH, SPORT AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT;
CABINET MINISTERS PRESENT;
MEMBER OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS ACCREDITED TO THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA;
SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS;
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA EXECUTIVE MEMBERS PRESENT;
THE UNDER 20 NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM TECHNICAL BENCH;
THE VICTORIOUS UNDER 20 NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM;
ALL INVITED DISTINGUISHED GUESTS;
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS;
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
On behalf of the government and the people of the republic of Zambia and indeed on my own behalf, i am greatly delighted to host our gallant and victorious young Chipolopolo national football team which has made our country proud and put smiles on the faces of all Zambians.
I am extremely grateful to Jehovah god for giving us this historical victory through our young men. We are all happy and fully satisfied with the team’s outstanding performance in the just ended 21st edition of the under-20 Africa cup of nations tournament.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate our young footballers for winning the cup. Your tireless efforts and zeal to secure this cup is highly commendable and it is no mean achievement.
Your achievement of reaching the finals of the tournament and winning the cup is a significant milestone that has gone down not only in our annals but also in the history of African football.
You represented our country in a manner that a true patriot and gallant soldier of the land would proudly do.
I am happy to note that since the tournament began, you have been consistent and exemplary ambassadors of peace and prosperity in line with my government’s core values.
As your republican president, and patron of the football association, my heart beams with pride to host you. Your achievements on the football pitch has restored our image-as a great footballing nation.
It is gratifying that after the 2012 victory by the senior national football team in the AFCON tournament in Gabon, we have once more conquered Africa in football and this time at youth level.
We have revitalised the memory of the world as one of the greatest footballing nations in Africa. I know the world also remembers Zambia for its splendid performance during the 1988 South Korea Olympic games.
Ladies and gentlemen
The victory and the perfect hosting of the under 20 Africa cup of nations (AFCON) deserve to be commended by all Zambians. We worked together in one spirit under our motto “one Zambia one Nation”. This is indeed a spirit which we always preach and we shall continue with the same spirit under my leadership.
In unity we have power as a nation to rise above all social, political and economic divides like a noble eagle in its flight.
Our champions, the young Chipolopolo, you have brought joy and great honour to our nation at a time when our country needs to be united like never before. Your success is priceless.
As you represented the country in the last two weeks in the just ended tournament, Zambians were not looking at each other based on their tribe, political affiliation, colour and religion. We all cheered in unison epitomising the unity that has existed in our country since independence. This is who we are and no one can take it away from us.
My government through the ministry of sports will continue to provide financial support towards football development and other sports disciplines. This is in line with our 2009 national sports policy that promotes international participation in sport for skills development of our athletes, coaches and sportspersons.
We will also continue to tap talent from the young people from across the country through the promotion of talent identification programmes in order to build sport.
My government believes that in order for our country to progress in sport, there is need to ensure participation of our young men and women in exchange programmes, regional and continental sport events, as this builds the confidence of our sportspersons.
As you prepare for the 2017 under 20 world cup in south korea, i wish to reassure you that my government will provide you with all the necessary support needed for you to be successful.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to also note that your achievement has made all of you household names and this comes with social temptations. My prayer is that all of you will fulfil your football dreams.
Please don’t rush into signing contracts that are being dangled on you but seek advice from your clubs, guardians, parents and managers.
Your achievement is just the beginning of a long football journey—the future is in your hands. Keep away from social vices that can hinder you from realising your football dreams.
As you embark on your preparations for the world cup, i wish you all the very best.
I urge the Football Association of Zambia, the clubs, academies, coaches, parents, guardians and the business community, to continue supporting these boys and create more future stars not only in football, but also in other sports as well.
Ladies and gentlemen
I wish to also thank the minister of youth, sport and child development for leading a formidable team that worked tirelessly to put in place all necessary human, financial and material needs that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) demanded for our country to successfully host the event.
Special tribute goes to the local organising committee led by president of the football association of Zambia Mr. Andrew Kamanga. Once more, the unity of purpose was a key catalyst which enabled you to deliver.
In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders to support our champions in their world cup preparations and during the tournament itself scheduled for South Korea in May.
I wish to promise you and on behalf of all the other well wishers that we will render our unwavering support to your football career.
MAY GOD BLESS OUR YOUNG CHIPOLOPOLO AND OUR GREAT NATION, ZAMBIA!