BOLA BIZ: LEARN FROM JAMES CHAMANGA!
At the weekend, James Chamanga shook the net not once but twice to help Red Arrows fly over Nakambala Leopards 2-1 in Mazabuka.
On February 2, Chamanga turns the ripe age of 40 years.
In the 2007/2008 soccer season in South Africa, Chamanga won the Lesley Manyanthela Golden Boot award while turning out for Moroka Swallows.
He became the third Moroka Swallows player to bag the award since it was introduced in 1996.
The other Moroka Swallows players to have won it include late Zambia striker Denis Lota and Senegalese striker Mame Niang.
Swallows share the accolade of producing the most winners of the top scorer award in the Professional Soccer League alongside Kaiser Chiefs.
They have harvested four apiece. Of those there is a record of 25 league goals set by Collins Mbesuma in the 2004/2005 season.
Zambia, outside the owners South Africa has produced the most of the top scorers in South Africa. They are six in total.
Lota, Mbesuma twice, Chris Katongo, Chamanga and Mwape Musonda-the latest last season.
Chamanga left South Africa without pictures of him dancing in front of beer bottles.
We never read scandals of him in the inquisitive South Africa press.
Even at the national team; the Chipolopolo, in his ten years of service from 2005 to 2015 we never read or heard of Chamanga being ejected out of camp for indiscipline.
We know Chamanga went to China to play football. He signed for Dalian Shide in 2008 scoring 30 goals in the four years he spent there in 121 appearances.
He later left for Liaoning Whaowin carving out a cult hero status while finishing joint second in the Chinese Super League in 2016 with 14 goals.
The road in China was not all rosy as the Makumbi Stars product suffered a serious shoulder injury while challenging for a header against Guizhou Hengfeng in 2017. He had fractured his ribs too.
Chamanga fought back bravely and returned to action.
Two years ago, his Chinese club announced that Chamanga would become a Technical Director effectively writing obituaries on his career.
The Liaoning statement then read,
“After the club and James jointly decided to decide, from now on, James will no longer represent the first team to play in the League.
“As a meritorious foreign aid, James will enter the management of the club and serve as the Technical Director of the club, continuing to contribute to the Liaoning Football Club.
“James joined Liaoning Hongyun Football Club in 2013.
“In more than five years, James played 104 games for the Liaoning Hongyun team and scored 41 goals. He is the first foreigner to hit the over 100 games mark and his 41 goals will go down in the history of Liaozu.
“In the past two seasons, James’s playing time has continued to decline due to injuries.
“However, in daily training and competitions, James still has a dedication to work for the team.
“James’ sense of responsibility and professionalism have earned the team’s height. Recognition and praise,” the statement concluded.
He was now the former Makumbi Stars, City of Lusaka, Zanaco, Bush Bucks, SuperSport United, Swallows, Dalian and Liaoning footie star.
Without discipline, Chamanga would not have been promoted straight from the pitch to the bench.
When the team changed coaches at the top, Chamanga decided to return home.
He rode above the injuries and subsequent retirement to return to local action.
In March 2019, Chamanga joined Red Arrows on a short term deal that has extended into this season. Military teams do not brook nonsense and Chamanga has fitted into Arrows perfectly like a hand to glove.
Now he is the joint top scorer of the Zambia Super Division 15 years after he left the country for green football pastures.
I met him in the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) late last year. He took me through pictures on the smart phone of his investments.
These were incredible master-pieces of infrastructure. He has never gloated or flaunted them anywhere-not even on social media.
Chamanga has been a consummate professional without the smoke of scandal.
The secret of his longevity has been discipline. He told me he trains and looks after himself meticulously well.
Oh, and lest we forget, he won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 too.
Those two goals for Arrows against Nakambala last weekend epitomizes everything about Chamanga; commitment and discipline-playing like his debut season for Makumbi Stars in 2000.
That is 20 years ago.
Let him be added to the new Chipolopolo set up as a mentor like England did with David Beckham in 2010 as Chamanga does not wish to return to international football as a player.
He is a specimen of discipline and dedication to duty. Many current footballers can learn from Chamanga.
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