Monday, June 24, 2024

Livingstone: A football loving city perpetually in backwaters

LIVINGSTONE31 July 2018. As the Victoria falls ground, meters away from the mighty Victoria falls, heaved with hundreds of soccer fans from all corners of the city. As Zesco Vic-falls wrestled Maramba Stars to the ground in a second-tier derby. And this question was perpetually sweeping my mind: “why top-flight football, the coveted Super division is always beyond the touching distance of football teams in Livingstone?”

Fifty-six years after the advent of professional league football in Zambia; an erstwhile British colony, and the city where the country is joined with Zimbabwe at the hip has never conceived a team to the top-tier. However, football stars – Livingstone born and bread – have emerged, moved elsewhere and their careers culminated, consequently went on to make the crux of the national team.

Bruce Musakanya, Conlyde Luchanga – some monikers whose careers took in spells here and went on to be cobbled by national team handlers for national duty – albeit on short stints. And Welcome Mulenga, a name palpably revered and endeared by a cross-section of fans in football spheres of this city. Previously charmed Livingstone fans with his scoring prowess at Zesco Vic-falls and subsequent moved to Forest rangers in the Super division. The ace winger once hovered the entrance of Chipolopolo when he made the provisional roster for the four nations tournament.

The bucketful of the game’s talent from this city, whose name is bequeathed after the Scottish pioneer missionary David Livingstone, it was something that captivated Mufulira Wanderers coach Justin Chinama whilst on a sojourn. He said after Wanderers played a third tier side Blue Arrows in a pre-season friendly match: “Livingstone is abundant of talent. There is an abundance of football talent in this city.”

Plunging weight on his word – that he did not make this statement only as a tongue in cheek, later Chinama acquired the services of a Livingstone striker Pheuzzy Chibandika from Maramba Stars. The lad is now banging goals for Maite who are on the cusp of making their way back to the Super league.

Other than producing quality players Livingstone is a crazy football city. Crestfallen over Livingstone Pirate’s failure to bring top-flight football to the city after three decades of campaigning in Division one, fans have not lost faith and still turn out in huge crowds on match days.

Newly promoted to the FAZ Division One Zone Four Maramba Stars have the most fervent fan base made up of people from the slums: Ngwenya, Malota, Namatama, Libuyu and the surrounding areas. This is the most infamy set of supporters in town fond of wrecking mayhem; waging fights, throwing objects on the pitch to their chagrin in defeat. Often times they have raffled feathers with rival fans from Livingstone Pirates, prompting the latter’s executive to move their matches on the same day as their counterparts.

By and large, Livingstone is a football loving city perennially an underbelly. Before the outset of every soccer season, clubs converge for their annual general meetings. They talk big, making wholesale of pledges. Much of regretting for the years of agony but when the season rolls round they retreat to the same garb with the same modus operandi.

“We are ashamed of ourselves that as a city we do not have a Super league team while our counterparts in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola; including small towns like Monze and Choma are represented at the higher level,” said the director of housing and social services Mulonda Habenzu – a department at the city council entrusted with the prerogative to run the affairs of Livingstone Pirates. He was giving a speech during the 2018 AGM at the Council chambers in February.

Insanity is putting grip on same things and expecting a paradigm shift. Every time same narrative of players involved in stand-offs with the clubs over being sent on scrapheap. Often time we rant but it seems we keep on knocking our heads on brick walls.

Surely, Livingstone teams owes its people a huge moral debt; god forbids persistence of this trajectory.

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  1. Interesting, for some of us this city evokes a lot of sentimentalism. In actual fact Libuyu Township, named after the big Mubuyu (Baobab tree) found in the midst of this township is not a squatter settlement.

    In addition to the stars already mentioned, the city has also produced the likes of Jani Simulambo (Hillcrest), and Fanny Hangunyu (Linda Secondary School).
    Jani Simulambo, Dennis Liwewe, would comment: We are good in the Air, and the ball comes to Jani in the midfield, 12 meteres from the centre circle. Jani dribbles one man, Jani, Jani, Jani, Jani, Open fire Janiiii, its a goooooaaaallll!!!!. 3-1.
    Jani was one of GBFC, Kabwe Warriors??? and Zambia’s midfield Maestro. A school boy international whilst at Hillcrest Secondary Technical School, graduated in 1971 to join Livingstone Jets, and eventually ventured to Lusaka to join Zambia Army. His highest highlights was to be the No 8 in the twice replayed Africa Cup final of 1974 with the “dreaded” Zaire Leopards in Cairo, Egypt. He is now retired and is known as ‘ba Coach’ here in Port Elizabeth, Sasafrika.
    Fanny Hangunyu (was a later product of Linda Secondary School, (c) 1976-78). After school, he joined Red Arrows and his greatest moment was to score 2 classic goals against Bruce Grobellar of Liverpool and Zimbabwe at the Independence Stadium in Lusaka in 1980, when Zambia hammered the Lazims (Lazaroes of Zimbabwe) 2-0.
    Top quality soccer will soon come to this city. Actually Livingstone needs an ultra modern Stadium (Though I hope it wouldn’t be a White Elephant).
    With this, Zambia can start luring top world clubs and national teams for a game of football and a dip in the Devils Pool, while they Bungee jump, micro fly, ride Elephants and walk with Cheetahs.
    Afterall, the city has all the infrastructure of a tourist town.

  2. Kasama Boy, I really need your contact number so that we sit down and talk of those years when ITT Superstars was the talk of town – I mean during the 70’s when we used to sneak into the Maramba Stadium to watch the likes of Babu, Mundindi and Maybin.

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