• Chishimba Bwalya

Delivering Zambia's common future through athletics


Njekwa Milupi

Introduction

The Commonwealth Games are an opportunity for Zambian Sports people to showcase their talent and essentially indicate the sport development of the country. Despite the country being represented by a reasonable number of athletes at these games, we cannot boast of bringing back an exceptional number of medals. This is a common goal that appears to be difficult to achieve. It is suggested that perhaps the issue is an intrinsic part of the country. Therefore, with athletics in Zambia as the focus, this essay will argue that a common future can be delivered by connecting, innovating and transforming ideas from a local to an international level.


Delivering a common future

A common future is where people, regardless of their background have the power to influence decisions in athletics. The ideas, models and solutions that can achieve this are already in place. However, they require attention and investment. Firstly, this can be done by aligning goals with sustainability, safety, prosperity and fairness.


Secondly, there should be systematic assessment of national infrastructure. This process includes an estimation of current infrastructure performance, projections of future needs, and the provision of infrastructure strategies allowing decision-makers to respond to these needs. In spite of this, Adshead et al. (2019) propose that the delivery, cost and impact of doing so should be weighed in order to avoid negative outcomes. This is expounded on further in the transforming section below.


Connecting

With an increase in globalization, meeting and interacting with people from different parts of the world has become more common. Although this has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still important for the development of athletics locally, nationally, and internationally.

Locally, frequent All Comers Meets and joint training sessions could be held for the athletics clubs. This will help coaches and athletes gauge their progress against others and measure their performance from training to a more competitive level.


Nationally, a partnership approach between Zambia Athletics (ZA), Ministry of Health and stakeholders should be implemented. Klein et al. (2010) argue that this combination of public and private resources will be beneficial in achieving social objectives. In this case, a common future.


At an international level, the country requires more exposure and representation by athletes. As experiences differ from country to country, it is essential for as many local athletes to gain exposure on the international scene by participating in global events. The pressure of competing against top tier athletes is likely to improve their overall individual performances. Therefore, delivering a common future can be achieved by connecting Zambian athletes to the world.


Innovating

New methods, new ideas: Innovation in the public interest occurs when resources that are owned by members of a community are: ‘…deployed in new ways based on new ideas about their relevance to public interests’ (Klein et al. 2010, p. 2). This is vital because it can guarantee effective change in an ever-changing society. One method in which this can be achieved is through a skills planning and training approach. For example, through the Talent Identification Program (TIP) currently implemented by ZA, young athletes can be scouted as early as sixteen years old.


Despite this, there is still much to be done regarding the skills planning and training approach. For instance, in Jamaica there is a national athletics boys and girls’ championship where teenagers compete for the top positions. The pressure at this event not only prepares the athletes for competing at a world-class stage but also attracts recruiters from the United States. If applied in Zambia, we would boast of the same or similar benefits. However, there is currently no unified national competition for government, private and independent schools where young athletes can be scouted. What exists, however, are separate inter-schools’ competitions for government, private and independent schools. If the form of innovation that is employed in Jamaica is introduced in Zambia it would catapult the delivery of a common future.

Delivering a common future can be achieved by connecting Zambian athletes to the world.

Transforming

Having an idea but not implementing it suggests that it is a dream. Zambia could be synonymous with athletics development on the international scene but this will take time, dedication and funds. Nevertheless, athletics goals can be achieved by continual improvement through social, economic and institutional development.


One way in which this can be brought about is by hosting international events. South Africa, for instance, won the rights to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup because it was driven by socio-economic and political objectives (Du Plessis et al. 2017). It used this as a signal to communicate international recognition in terms of economic, social and political stability. Following this, the economy of the country improved and other sectors such as tourism benefitted from the investment. Although this example relates to another sport, the principles can be applied to athletics in Zambia.


Zambia could begin by hosting regional games for neighbouring countries and then expand to an international level in future. However, this cannot be achieved without the relevant infrastructure, as pointed out in the ‘delivering a common future’ section. Therefore, infrastructure development and goals to host world-class athletics events are specific output targets that would aid in achieving a common future (Misener and Misener 2017).


Conclusion

There are common athletic goals for the country yet differences on how to achieve them. It has been submitted that there needs to be unity, cohesion and inclusivity in delivering a common future. This can be achieved by applying shared values, interests and experiences to the themes of connecting, innovating and transforming. Although much work needs to be done, this method would most likely guarantee a common future.


REFERENCES


Adshead D, Thacker S, Fuldauer L, Hall J. (2019) ‘Global Environment Change’, Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals through long-term infrastructure planning, 59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101975.


Du Plessis E, Saayman M, and Van der Merwe A. (2017). ‘Explore changes in the aspects fundamental to the competitiveness of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination’, South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, 20(1), 1- 11. https://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v20i1.1519.


Klein, P.G., et al., 2010. Toward a theory of public entrepreneurship. European management review, 7 (1), 1–15. [Google Scholar]. Misener, K.E. and Misener, L., 2017. Grey is the new black: advancing


Name: NJEKWA MILUPI

Age: 21

Sex: Female

School: University of Birmingham

Email address: njekwa.milupi@gmail.com