Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili said shortly after returning from a 10-day visit to Cuba yesterday that the former Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) sports complex had been dormant for a long time.
Kambwili said the government would engage the current owners, LCM on the proposal to turn it into a sports university.
He said at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka that the Government would work closely with its counterparts in Cuba to set up the first sports university in the country.
The minister said should the LCM management agree to release the facility to the government, Zambia would be headed in the right direction in developing sports.
“First things first; we are going to negotiate with LCM so that we can turn the former ZCCM sports complex into a sports university. At the moment I am sure there is nothing much happening there.
“What we will do is, we will ask the Cuban government to come and help us set up the first sports university in the country. If only the LCM can agree to release the facility to be used as sports university, then we can take our country forward,” Kambwili said.
He said his ministry would then draw up a programme concerning the sports university.
He would also do a Cabinet memorandum and try and implement some of the requirements for the programme.
“We will sit down and draw up a programme and will do a cabinet memorandum to try and implement the things on the programme like setting up the university.
“We certainly need the approval of the cabinet for us to set up the facility,” he said.
However, he could not state how long the project would take, but said if the LCM management released the facility it would take a period of two years.
“It will be very difficult for me to say how long this project will take, but as far as I am concerned this project can be done in a period of two years,” he said.
Kambwili said Cuba was one of the few countries in the world that had developed and transformed sport from mere recreation to “serious business”.
He said in Zambia some people had taken sport to be a mere pastime.
He said Cuba had taken sports development so seriously that the country had integrated sport into the education system.
“In Cuba sports is a very important source of foreign exchange and has won them a number of international medals, that is what we want for Zambia when we turn the former ZCCM sports club into a sports university where talent will be identified and developed,” Kambwili said.
He said PE was an examinable subject in Cuba, and that every child that intends to go into primary, secondary, advanced or tertiary education had to do PE.
He said football in Cuba was a subject in schools, meaning that a football player, coach and football scientist and psychologists were being developed at the grassroots level.
Kambwili said he was impressed with what he saw in Cuba and urged all Zambians to get involved in sports development.
He said by integrating sport in the education system, Cuba had reached the highest level where it reaps medals at every international competition while Zambia was busy offering lip service where sport was concerned.
The minister said if Zambia could take a leaf from the approach that Cuba had on sports development, the country would produce a lot of world-class athletes.
“In Cuba all parts of the country contribute sportsmen and women that reap medals for the country and I think if as Zambia we can take the same approach I can assure you this country will produce world-class athletes,” he said.