Tribute to Kalusha Bwalya


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As I reflect on the Football Association of Zambia developments over the last weekend and in particular Kalusha’s FAZ presidency loss to Andrew Kamanga in the early hours of Sunday, I find myself among those that hold an un-diminishing debt of gratitude to Kalusha Bwalya for being there for Zambia when it mattered most during the darkest deep of our nation’s football story. Kalusha led from the front as it were and dragged Zambian football out of the doldrums. At the time of Zambia’s peak, Kalu was there to bring honor back to Zambia.

Until his ascension to the FAZ presidency, Kalusha Bwalya was the only Zambian to have ascended to the apex of the Zambian game with such individual honours. After many years of declining fortunes for the national team, Kalusha Bwalya inspired a new generation of Zambian players to believe that they could compete with the best in African football and they did.

I am cognizant of the stones that have been thrown at Kalu, but I also acknowledge that Kalu as anyone could have done better, but we are grateful for his contribution. He made the difference never witnessed before.

When one looks at all that is good about Zambian football, one cannot miss the hand of Kalusha Bwalya. Remember him scoring a hat-trick when Zambia beat Italy at the 1988 Olympics. See him again in 1993 after the Gabon air- disaster which wiped out almost the entire Zambia national team. Kalusha was the rallying point around which the new team was built around. When Zambia reached the first Africa Cup of Nations final and won it, it was Kalusha, then FAZ president who drew the blueprint of the Zambian success.

It is true, leaders cannot go on forever, but I wish to congratulate Kalu for his achievements during his time. I write not to mourn with those who mourn Kalusha’s FAZ presidency loss to Andrew Kamanga, but as one paying tribute to a great son of Zambia.

Kalusha Bwalya has been one of Zambia’s greatest heroes and football icons. He led FAZ with a mixture of both professionalism and humility. Even in his loss, he continues to be humble. One of the most difficult challenges for any leader is to remain humble in light of the success that the leader has achieved. When one succeeds, it inevitably leads them to greater self-confidence, especially if they inevitably over-estimate their personal role in that success. As Bill Gates once said; “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they cannot lose”.

I thank Kalu for his contributions to the Zambian football story and wish him every success as he embarks on the next chapter in his extraordinary life. Kalu will always have a home at the hearts of genuine football lovers in Zambia and I am confident that he will continue to advance Zambia’s shared goals for a better future.

Wish you the best Kalu.

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