NAIROBI, September 7 – Former star winger and president of the Football Association of Zambia, Kalusha Bwalya has challenged retired Kenyan footballers to vie for top positions in Football Kenya Federation national elections in November.
Bwalya, the most decorated Zambian footballer who was elected to his country’s FA in 2008, told Capital Sport most African counties have failed to develop the game since bosses given mandate to run the federations are self-centred..
FKF is set to elect new national office bearers on November 13 after the first four-year of president, Sam Nyamweya and his National Executive Committee comes to an end.
“We are living in a democratic world, whether it’s Republican politics (in America) or football, there are always going to be elections for us to be recognised. I’m aware there will be new elections here but it has been always been difficult for former footballers to find their way up.
“We are trying to show the way. There is also an opening for former footballers not only to be coaches but also as administrators,” Bwalya, who also coached the Chipolopolo from 2003 to 06, outlined.
He added, “I’m just an individual who is working with a very good executive committee. The most significant people in football are players, referees and coaches, so we should not take away that importance and give it to one person who is in charge of the FA.
“We are just part of the game. The success of Kenyan football depends on all stakeholders rather than the Executive Committee,” the 1988 African Footballer of the Year and 1996 FIFA World Player nominee, added.
Former Gor Mahia forward Ken Oliech is the only retired footballer who has expressed interest to challenge Nyamweya in the presidential race with Sammy Shollei and Dan Shikanda who had their bans lifted yet to announce their candidature.
Shollei, a former Stars and Kenya Breweries (now renamed Tusker FC) midfielder was suspended by the NEC months after being elected vice president only to have a sigh of relief in August after the Sports Tribunal lifted his six year ban.
Shikanda on the other hand, who had stint with giants Gor and AFC Leopards as a winger, was reinstated during the recent federation’s AGM.
“We will have ours (election) next year, for us we have more time. There are programmes in Africa that we should be striving to develop but we intend to concentrate more on individual. Football is a team sport and we should not duel on negativity,” the Zambian legend stated.
Zambia have had mixed fortunes since lifting the 2012 African title. They were eliminated at the 2014 regional Cosafa Cup quarter-finals before bowing out of the 2015 AFCON in the group stages in Equatorial Guinea.
But having opened their 2017 AFCON campaign on a goalless draw with Guinea Bissau in Lusaka, Bwalya said they had to rebuild the team around the Under-23 squad who are one match away from qualifying to Rwanda’s 2016 Nations Championships (CHAN) finals despite parting ways with experienced head coach, French man, Herve Renard who led them to continental glory.
“The Chipolopolo of 2012 was fantastic team, world class and we deserved to win because of the input we had with Herve and the boys but we wanted to renew the team.
“The 2012 squad were together for a long time, some of the boys were in the Africa Cup in 2006 so they were playing their fourth tournament in order to win. We are now doing the same since we have belief in young players playing locally.
“We are finding our strides again and we hope the Chipolopolo will return to the team people used to know,” Bwalya who steered the team to the 2006 AFCON explained.
The second most capped player in Zambia noted that the huge gap between African nations that existed during their heyday has been closed, saying that any team in Africa is capable of winning the title.
“Africa has the players but as Zambia, we just have to have a good run and if anything, people should borrow a leaf from what we have done. Nobody gave us a chance to win AFCON but we did.
“When we used to play in 70s, 80s and 90s the gap was there, you could see the top five teams, then middle 12 and the rest, but today it’s close so I think we are all trying to make the best we can. Every county has some of their best players and we have to respect that, they can be a force to reckon with so we wish East Africa all the best.”