By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka – One of Africa’s greatest footballers, Samuel Eto’o, has said the continent needs to cultivate sporting talent to generate revenue for economic development and can better people’s lives, especially the underprivileged.
Eto’o said football is a great tool for developing communities, especially in the underprivileged ones, and helps promote good morals in society. The Cameroonian said he is one of the African players who are beneficiaries of their footballing talent.
He was in Lusaka last week to take part in the country’s first Castle Africa 5’s football tournament that attracted South Africa, Zambia, Lesotho, Tanzania, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The Cameroonian legend took part in the three-day event at Futsal Complex.
“It is an honour for me because it wasn’t too long ago that I was in a similar situation. Football made me the person that I am today. It’s an honour and a pleasure for me to be a part of this initiative that is giving back to the community,” added Eto’o.
The former Barcelona star also hailed Zambia for its achievements in recent years, saying the country is destined for greater things in football, as evidenced by the country winning AFCON 2012.
He said the success can be a good platform for the development of youth soccer skills to replace the ‘ageing legs’.
“Zambia has the capacity to achieve more successes in football with immense support towards the development of the sport at the grassroots,” he told The Southern Times in Lusaka.
“I think football in Zambia is on course as can be seen from what the country has achieved, winning the 2012 AFCON was proof that Zambia was on course and destined for greater things”.
He noted that former Zambian football greats, including Kalusha Bwalya and Christopher Katongo, can be good ambassadors of the sport to assist better humanity.
In January, Eto’o and African superstars teamed up with South Africa’s largest beer brewer, to launch the Castle Africa 5’s, the largest amateur five-a-side football tournament in Africa.
The tournament that kicked off in February, during which teams competed domestically in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Tanzania climaxed in Lusaka.
South Africa beat Zambia 3-1 in the final. As the winner, the South African side has an opportunity to watch the 42nd the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Katongo, who is also Castle Africa 5’s ambassador, said during the tournament, it was interesting to mingle with the kids in the game of football and urged the young starts to use the five-star tournaments to enrich their talents.
“The five-a-side Futsal game is beneficial for faster speed of play and improved attacking psychology. We have the talent and need an enhancement,” the former Zambia national team skipper added.
Interestingly or rather surprisingly, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda pitched up at the tournament in Bauleni, one of the sprawling communities of Lusaka. He later counselled youths on the importance of fair play and working together and the need to avoid harmful practices.