ATHLETES heading for the All-Africa (AAG) Games in Congo-Brazzaville should die a little for mother Zambia as Government is using tax-payers money to send them there, says Sports Minister Vincent Mwale.
Mwale said Government was going to spend about K4.9 million of taxpayer’s money to send 58 athletes that will lead Zambia’s hunt for medals at the 11th AAG from September 4 to 19.
Mwale yesterday challenged the athletes camped at Lusaka’s Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) to mint medals for the nation.
He said it was not easy to get funding from the Treasury especially that there were other projects going on and copper prices have declined.
“Die a little for Zambia as your preparation and travelling is happening at a great cost. We are spending tax-payers money to camp, buy tickets, pay for accommodation and other needs to ensure your participation at the AAG,
“We expect you to put your lives into this tournament and bring glory to the nation. Government is spending money because it believes in you, so put in your very best,” he said.
Mwale said his ministry was aware that football gets the biggest support compared to other sports disciplines when competing in international engagements.
He said they were working tirelessly to ensure that athletes from what are considered minor sports receive incentives just like in football.
Director of sports at the ministry, Bessie Chelemu, said the ministry refused to send an athlete on wild card but only those that met the qualifying standards to get a better performance.
Meanwhile, the paralympic technical coach Wisdom Mooga assured the minister of good performance at the tournament.
The first contingent that will have swimmers and boxers leaves on August 29 while the others on September 3.
The 58 member Zambian team includes 10 judokas, 16 handballers (female), eight boxers, six swimmers, four paralympians and 14 runners.
At the 2011 AAG, Zambia managed to scoop three medals consisting of silver and two bronze.
Earlier Mwale praised the national Polocrosse team for finishing as silver medallists at the World Cup Championship held in South Africa.
At a medal presentation at his office, the minister said he was proud that Zambia Polocrosse Association’s discipline, dedication and commitment to the sport had brought honour to the country.
“As we celebrate this achievement, I want to implore the association to continue popularising the sport to increase participation of the citizenry in the country,” he said
National team captain David Harris said the support the team received from Government and other corporate entities encouraged them to work hard.