GOVERNMENT has heeded the nationwide cry of the Zambian people over the initial name given to the new Lusaka stadium under construction and has now renamed it – Heroes National Stadium. Sports Minister, Chishimba Kambwili said in an interview yesterday that the Government had heard the cries of the people over the earlier name given to the stadium – Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium. Kambwili said after consultations with President Michael Sata, it was agreed that the stadium be renamed Heroes National Stadium. “We are a listening Government and we have heard the cries of the people over the name given to the stadium. After consultations with the president, as you know the Head of State chairs Cabinet, it was decided that the stadium be named Heroes National Stadium. I hope this puts to rest the concerns of the people,” Kambwili said. Zambians across the country disapproved the earlier name – Gabon Disaster Heroes National Stadium – that was given to the 50,000-seater capacity new Lusaka stadium under construction and used every means of communication available; including social networking sites facebook, twitter, BBM and the likes to express their distaste over the name. And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Kalusha Bwalya commended the Government for changing the name of the stadium, saying it demonstrated it had a listening ear. “I want to commend the decision makers for acting swiftly really. It demonstrates that the Government has a listening ear. Lusaka stadium is a national stadium and many players have sacrificed for Chipolopolo to be the proud team it is today over the years. I am sure where ever they are; they can feel their efforts have been rewarded. We look forward to further excellence on that ‘pitch’ for players to give it their all. We look forward to that,” Kalusha said. And Kaiko Namusa reports that earlier in Parliament, UPND Pemba Member of Parliament (MP) Mutinta Mazoka during the question and answer session wanted to find out from Republican Vice-President Guy Scott, what the Government was doing about addressing the concerns from members of the public who had expressed reservations and concerns over the name given to the new Lusaka stadium. In his response, Scott admitted the name Gabon Disaster National Heroes Stadium was a mouthful and assured that Government would look into the concerns and would address them appropriately. He said Government could not instantly respond but would take appropriate steps and that MPs had the right to bring in a private motion over the matter. Meanwhile, Kambwili has announced that hosting of the on-going Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Senior Challenge is a blessing in disguise as it gives an impetus to Zambia’s bid to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer tournament. Speaking on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) lunch time discussion programme yesterday, Kambwili said Zambia had already written to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) expressing the country’s intention to host the 2019 AFCON tournament. The minister said he and FAZ president, Kalusha met outgoing CAF president, Issa Hayatou in South Africa in January over the country’s intentions to stage the games and were told some of the conditions that apply when bidding for the games; among them a country must have hosted a CAF or FIFA recognised under 17-20 tournament or a regional tournament like the COSAFA. Kambwili has also said the Mongu Stadium construction would begin this monthend and come 2016, Zambia would have four stadia of international repute; as it is one of the requirements for hosting a tournament of the AFCON magnitude. “We have Nkana and Arthur Davies Stadiums here in Kitwe, although we may have to bring the capacity of Nkana up to about 20, 000 because that is the required number for hosting games for tournaments of that magnitude. So all in all, I can say we’ll be ready for the AFCON,” Kambwili said. Apart from the Mongu stadium, Government also intended to build a modern stadium in Livingstone to supplement the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola and the Heroes National Stadium in Lusaka which is expected to be officially opened in December this year with an invitation four-nation tournament with yet-to-be announced participating teams.
/ Times of Zambia