MINISTER of Youth, Sport and Arts Elvis Nkandu has appealed to the Treasury through President Hakainde Hichilema to set aside K53 million in next year’s budget to enable the country successfully host the 2023 Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) under-18 and Under-20 championships.

Zambia has been mandated to host the continental championship in April next year.

Nkandu said during the Presidential luncheon for athletes at State House, Wednesday, that hosting the continental event will raise the country’s profile.

He said hosting the event will also be a platform to rehabilitate and improve infrastructure as well as enhance sports development.

“Through you sir, we are appealing that if this is acceptable consideration be made by the treasury to set aside resources of about K53 million in the 2023 national budget for this purpose. Sir, you are the one who has been telling us to grab every opportunity of international nature so it is just a question of emphasizing,” he said.

Nkandu also appealed to the business community to assist in raising the K53 million.

“This K53 million may not even come from government, that’s why you are there to assist us,” he said.

He said Zambia will send a team of 330 athletes and officials to Malawi for the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five youth games in Malawi.

He said the youth games have become a dream shaper for most athletes currently excelling in their respective disciplines.

The Minister said his ministry intends to change the narrative that employment is not just white collar jobs.

“I therefore wish to appeal to you to continue supporting us even as we look forward to fulfilling the last assignment (Region Five Youth Games) this year,” he said.

Nkandu said the Copper Queens also need support in their preparations for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, President Hichilema said his administration was committed to supporting sport.

“Your government will support all the sports. The minister was appealing to me to continue…luckily there is no need for an appeal, we have decided together with the team to invest in sport. That is why we are focusing on economic growth, because when we grow our economy, trade investment, we can then generate resources to spend on sports, education, health, clean water supply and other areas,” said President Hichilema.

Meanwhile, Nkandu said 2023 had so far been a great year as athletes defied odds to win medals for Zambia.

Nkandu said the success story at the Commonwealth Games as well as the WAFCON was as a result of hard work, dedication and concerted effort from all stakeholders

He thanked President Hichilema for his unwavering support to sports.

“You went out of your way to provide an additional funding. Through your support ,the ministry was able to sponsor 15 federations for various international events. Thank you sir and the first lady for the unfailing support and love,” said Nkandu.