Copperbelt province Basketball Chairperson Andrew Nyirenda says government is neglecting minor sports disciplines in the province.
Nyirenda mentioned that Rugby, Basketball and Football were the only surviving sports but bemoaned their poor facilities that he said were a danger to sportsmen and women.
In an interview with Goal Diggers! Nyirenda said Levy Mwanawasa stadium was the only government sports arena in the province that was in good condition.
“Apart from the Levy Mwanawasa stadium, government has no other sports structures in Copperbelt. We have on several occasions tried to engage the Ministry of Sports but to no success. We are always told that there is no policy that supports minor sports in the country,” Nyirenda explained.
Nyirenda further said Basketball had survived on the Copperbelt because players had passion for the game.
“Basketball would have died a natural death like Badminton, Netball and Tennis. It is only surviving because players have passion for the game. Mining companies that used to support Basketball are no longer supportive on basis of high production costs that they incur. Old sports structures have been sold to churches and youths have nowhere to channel their energies to,” Nyirenda bemoaned.
The Copperbelt basketball league comprises teams from all over the province unlike the Midlands one. Some teams covered distances of more than 70 kilometres to reach game venues and fulfill their fixtures.
Lunga Bullets’ Agripa Chama resounded on the logistical challenges some teams were faced with.
“It is tough for most teams. There are only four teams with stable sponsorship yet in the league we are more than 12. It is sad to see them struggle to fulfill fixtures because it takes away a lot from them. Kitwe is the central venue for most teams but it is not easy to play when one is physically and mentally tired. Government should really find solutions so that the huge number of unemployed youths can find solace in sports unlike watching them commit crimes out of boredom,” advised Chama.