By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (March 2020)
Zambia’s football heroes of independence are enduring their darkest hour. They played before there was money in the game – even the limited amount in African football. They put their bodies on the line not only for football, but for their country too. They broke bad laws – racist laws – to play and entertain ordinary people and show what could be achieved through football.
However, the malaise is deep rooted, or so it seems. Their contribution to independence, including the Legend of Legends, Ginger Pensulo, has largely been forgotten. That great generation is dwindling. It is therefore essential that these stories are obtained and preserved for future generations. They are not just sporting icons – they are living history of Zambia, but without urgent attention and assistance, they will die sooner rather than later.
These stories need to be obtained, collated and presented and preserved in a Museum of Football’s Heroes in the Copperbelt. This will benefit children especially and future generations as it can help to teach this history of an important period in Zambia’s history in an innovative and interesting manner that children who love sport will enjoy. The current generation of children will benefit, as will future generations. Other generations will benefit too. The generation of freedom fighting footballers will see their role in history acknowledged and honoured, as it should be. Younger and future generations will see their contributions too.
The Sports Ministry, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture would all benefit as they will all be part of this project, sharing the cost and benefits. FAZ would benefit by having access to this, and being able to point to the great contribution of football in a vital struggle that paved the way for future generations. The public would benefit as they will have access to this vital trove of information about the sport they love.
Consequently, Zambian football-enthusiasts benefit, the Sports Ministry benefits, the FAZ benefits, and so does the sport. But this cannot be achieved without safeguarding the heath and lives of the remaining Football Heroes of Independence, especially Pensulo.