The National Olympics Committee (NOCZ) of Zambia says the U-20 women’s soccer team failed to travel to the All African Games in Morocco because its affiliate, the Football Association did not confirm their intent to participate at the event.

NOCZ President Alfred Foloko says FAZ only confirmed that they would participate at the games a day before the event commenced in Morocco.

“The National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) regrets the failure by the Zambia Under 20 Girls National Football Team to participate at the ongoing All Africa Games taking place in Morocco due to logistic challenges. As the main body responsible for the accreditation for All Africa Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, we wish to provide a correct position that led to the failure of the Girls Football Team to travel to Morocco. NOCZ works under strict Rules and Procedures laid down by the Games Organising Committee when dealing with the accreditation and travel arrangements for the participating teams, which is the case with the 2019 All Africa Games, currently taking place in Morocco,” Foloko stated.

He said the Committee strived to get the girls accredited to participate at the game and could not manage because the deadline for submission of names had passed.

“Therefore, all Sports Federations are consequently required to follow these Rules and Procedures and adhere to timelines given by the Games Organising Committee for submission of athlete names, sport entries and Team travel itinerary for purposes of accreditation. As regards the failure by the Under 20 Girls Football Team, NOCZ wishes to set the record straight as follows: 1. All Sports Federations who qualified for the All Africa Games were expected to submit the names of their athletes to the NOCZ for purposes of accreditation before the Games Organising Committee (Comité d’organisation Des Jeux Africains de Rabat – COJA) deadline of 31 July 2019. All participating Federations submitted the names and their respective budgets with the exception of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ). Consequently, NOCZ submitted the received names of the Zambian athletes to COJA by 31 July 2019. It should be noted that FAZ had not submitted names of their team or indicated their intention to participate in All Africa Games by the deadline.

“Two, On 11 August 2019, long after the accreditation deadline had closed; NOCZ was informed that the Girls Football Team will be participating in the All Africa Games. NOCZ worked tirelessly to obtain late accreditation of the team from COJA and pushed for the possible late arrival of the Girls Team by 14th August 2019 3. We understand that FAZ made their own arrangements for the training and were confident that the Team would travel from South Africa to Morocco after the COSAFA tournament. Meantime, the NOCZ instructed its Chef De Mission (CDM) in Morocco to make an urgent check and clear any outstanding dues to COJA in relation to the Girls Team participation at the All Africa Games. All that was done at short notice. 4. We are, therefore, saddened that FAZ, as our affiliate, did not inform us about their participation at the All Africa Games.”

“As earlier alluded, accreditation closed on 31 July 2019 and FAZ only submitted the names to NOCZ on 13 August 2019 for the Team that was expected to arrive in Morocco on 14 August 2019. Finally, we wish to state that in line with this, our Technical Committee works with our Sports Federations to include participation of their athletes in our longlist to Government in determining the Team size and addressing all logistics to attend these games. A good example is that of CHESS, which was not part of the initial list but was later included after confirmation from the COJA and the Africa CHESS Confederation.”