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WHO LEADS THE NOCZ?

GREETINGS sports lovers and welcome into the second week of the new year.

It is slowly taking shape setting, up pace for a great sporting year. In setting up the tone for 2022, leadership restructuring in sports development is very important. And one of the important sports mother bodies incorporating over 20 sports federations will this weekend have its elective annual general meeting (AGM). The National Olympic Committee of Zambia is set for elections this year which were scheduled to have been held in 2020 but due to the delayed Olympic Games attributed to COVID-19 they couldn’t take place.

The most interesting positions or the two-horse race is the presidency where incumbent Alfred Foloko is being challenged by Elias Mpondela, the Zambia Athletics president. Mpondela has been at the helm of Zambia Athletics for 23 years now.

Today’s Monday Letter looks at the key performance areas guiding the planning and implementation of the National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) programmes over the last quadrennial (2017-2021) under the leadership of Foloko. Having started my sports journalism career in 2015, much less was talked about concerning NOCZ while it was in existence. They are many reasons the Committee was not known by many or talked about, including by some of the veteran sports journalists I found in the game. Two years down the line under the leadership of Foloko, NOCZ was on top of things, embracing other sports federations and it’s a functioning organization now.

Foloko currently serves in the following other portfolios:

Zambia Judo Association president, Southern Africa Judo Confederation president, vice-president of the Africa Judo Union, Southern Africa executive committee member of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), president of ANOCA Zone 6, member of the ANOCA Development Commission. What a rich CV for a sports administrator who is not only administering sports in Zambia but his leadership has also extended an olive branch across Africa.

Like I stated above, this letter is going to take you through the four-year term of Foloko as NOCZ president. During the period under review, NOCZ led by Foloko advocated for improved governance structures in affiliate national federations. And in order achieve this, NOCZ has over the past four years held at least one Generic Sports Administration training for all national federations annually, and at least one tailored sports administration training upon request from affiliate sports federations.

Implementing good governance enhances an organisations’ legitimacy, effectiveness, and resistance to unethical practices. It therefore enables sports federations to build trust among governments, stakeholders, and potential commercial partners. Without doubt, these trainings have helped our sports federations conform to international standards on how they run their programmes, deliver activities while realising that the only reason they do this is the athletes.

Being a leader of the Olympic movement in the country, one of the most important things is to promote Olympism and Olympic values.

The NOCZ mission is promoting Olympism, embracing Commonwealth values and supporting the development of sport in Zambia through sustainable programmes. NOCZ has over the past quadrennial implemented programmes with various partners such as schools and universities to promote Olympic values educational programmes (OVEP) which has led to the establishment of the latter, e.g the Kwame Nkrumah University OVEP Club in Kabwe. It is now a norm to have annual sessions on Olympism and Olympic values. Athletes, coaches, federations and the general public have been targeted.

While promoting good governance, Foloko saw it fit that capacity building be part and parcel of the NOCZ programme. Capacity development has been one of the key performance areas for Foloko. As you may be aware, capacity development is a process through which individuals, organisations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time. This component had been missing in sports.

However, it was in 2018 when NOCZ held Training of Trainers in Strategic Planning Process and Management training for sports administrators from various national sports federations, learning institutions and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts. This training birthed a 13-member team of trainers in strategic planning who now help various national federations develop their strategic plans with local resource personnel. The most recent federation to benefit from this resource was the Zambia Basketball Federation which developed their latest strategic plan with the help of NOCZ trained manpower.

Since 2018, Zambia has been the centre of regional coach development training for the International Council of Coaching Excellence recognised credentials with over 40 coaches from Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia trained as coach developers. These have further impacted over 500 coaches across the three countries with advanced coaching techniques.

Further, NOCZ has facilitated training courses for Zambian coaches to attend at high performance training centres in Hungary. The most recent coaches to attend the three-month long training were from swimming and badminton.

Before COVID-19 hit Zambia, NOCZ engaged a marketing consultant to run a marketing workshop for national federations in a bid to help them package themselves well to attract sponsorship and partnerships from the corporate world. While making sure that all was in place in the administrative part, athletes were not left orphaned; what is sports administration without the athletes, anyway?

Elite Athlete Development has been introduced and during the quadrennial, Zambia has witnessed the increase of athletes on the Olympic Solidarity Athlete Scholarship which enables Zambian athletes to train at high performance centres across the world to help them develop into elite athletes. Athletes such as Sydney Siame and Tilka Paljk who both benefit from this programme, won medals at the 2019 All Africa Games. Judoka Steven Mung’andu has been training at the Regional Center Youth and Sports in Yerville, France. Being domiciled in France enabled him to attend top competitions across Europe that enabled him to develop and improve.

Most of the athletes on this programme participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. With the Elite Athlete Development programme in place, it was important that the Athlete Safeguarding and Promotion programme was put in place.

In a bid to create and promote a safe and abuse-free sports environment in the country, a NOCZ safe sport commission was set up on June 15, 2021.

The commission was established to help accelerate the formulation of safe sport policies and promote the safe sport agenda, among other targets.

Eight national sports federation representatives completed training as safe sport single point of contact (SPOC) for their respective national federations from November 3 to 5, 2021. It was disappointing that only eight came up even when they were all invited to attend.

NOCZ facilitated the training which focused on understanding what safe sport is, corruption, match fixing, sexual exploitation and abuse. This to me showed that NOCZ committed to ensuring athletes’ voices were heard and experiences were used for the improvement of sport and also putting athletes at the centre of sport in Zambia.

An athlete’s commission was launched in 2019. The chairperson sits on the NOCZ executive board to safeguard athletes’ interests, give advice and guide the NOCZ board on matters that impact athletes and members of NOCZ national federations. Managing to implement such programes is a sign that NOCZ has a good resource mobilisation.

Looking at how the NOCZ has improved over the past years, secretariat operations are amongst the most efficient in Africa, Programme development, implementation and delivery has seen NOCZ receive ‘special’ funding from the IOC, CGF, ANOCA and other cooperating partners, which have been channeled towards the affairs of athletes and their respective federations. So, it is with this background that his competitor, Mpondela, has to up his game and convince the 25 federations that will vote at the AGM. Yes, Mpondela is hoping that it will be tight like the last elections where he lost with a single vote and a lot has changed since then.

Mpondela has the experience, having being at the helm of ZA for 23 years, and is hoping to take the same experience to NOCZ in order to develop sport in the country.

Looking forward to interacting and sharing more ideas with you, sports lovers. Remember to propose a topic that you would like me to consider in the next letter. Thank you so much for your support and keep reading my Monday letters. Adios!

Send comment to: bright.t.tembo14@gmail. com or on WhatsApp: +260 976 163505.

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