Thursday Oct 14, 2021. 17:00
In the second and final part of our exclusive interview with 2012 AFCON winner Noah Chivuta, the ex-Zambia midfielder talk’s policy, the myths of grassroots football and particularly the latters direct impact on Chipolopolo’s faltering fortunes.
Chipolopolo is currently navigating through its lowest point after failing to punch above its weight in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers that has come in the wake of Zambia’s last three AFCON qualification flops.
The South African-based ex -Kabwe Warriors, SuperSport United and Wits midfielder recently spent over a month back home in Zambia observing the local league and had a privileged insight into the happenings at grassroots football.
“I know there is a new rule that has come in now about quotas on foreign players but I don’t even see the effectiveness in it,” Chivuta said.
“You just can’t put a quota on foreign players as if it is them that have made our football development not to go forward.
“But we forget that all the players found in the lower ranks could not make it or failed to make it into a premier league club.
“For example, if you look at Young Green Eagles or Young Buffaloes, if you go and look at the players there, they are players who failed in the FAZ Premier League so they just go down there where there is no age limit.
“So now that they are playing in those “Young” teams, tell me, where is the developmental aspect of the team? Because those lower ranked teams were meant for developmental football.
“I think that is where FAZ should have focused on so that they can maybe come up with an age limit so that teams starting XI’s have four Under 23s, two Under-21’s in each game and the rest you can be filled by any other players.
Chivuta also had a few things to say about the prime source of our future stars in the football academies where he noted that coaches lacked proper qualifications as youth team trainers.
“You go to the so-called academies. I don’t even know their mandate. OK, they will bring in younger players to play there but you find the way the players are developed or whatever they are not up to scratch,” Chivuta said.
“The coaches who are developing them are also a problem because if you find a player in the Premier League from these academies they lack the basic skills of football. It tells you there is something wrong on the development level.
“That is why you find that in the Premier League, the basics are not up to date and you start teaching the fundamentals of trapping the ball, controlling the ball; the right foot to use, passing the ball and the body posture.”
Chivuta said the academies have also placed unrealistic ambitions of producing players for export and the system has created a false impression on young players about the harsh realities of professional football.
“The players there are even saying that we just want to play overseas but they can’t even make it there because of lower standards of development and we expect the national team to do better,” Chivuta said.
“In the old days we used to play in the junior national teams and the clubs would start looking for you in those stages and then you would start going outside the country.”
Chivuta added that he has not also seen any significant transition of new talent since the success of the 2017 U20 AFCON winning team.
“You can at least see something of the core of the Under-20s that won AFCON but what about the rest after that? Who is going to take over although those players too haven’t reached their full potential yet,” Chivuta said.
“I think the system is not just working OK in terms of developing players since we won the AFCON 2012.
“If we developed in those development stages, we would have started seeing results.”
Chivuta said that FAZ must introduce a strong policy on regulating both youth coaches and the academies.
“FAZ must be tough on these things they have introduced like the club licensing systems that should also apply on these academy setups because I wonder if some of these development teams can even afford to pay their coaches,” he said.
“It is better we have four academies who are quality and well run and bring players from around the country instead of having a lot of academies that are not bearing any fruit or cannot afford to play coaches who have families to feed.
“I have watched many developmental teams in Zambia. You will find an U19 team is playing a game but sadly even they are also result-orientated just like a professional team.
“Even the coaches are scared instead of just teaching and focusing on the basics with these kids.
“I will tell you a story. These academy teams play good football when they start but when they concede a goal , the coach panics and he tells them to start hitting long balls because he wants to get a win at all cost and he totally forgets about developing the players.
“They say results are irrelevant and development is important but the coaches in those academies also want bonuses, they want to be promoted, they want to be paid.
“So how are we going to develop like that?”