By Shapa Wakung’uma
The untold story of Osward Mutapa
One of the immediate decisions I made just a few days after my appointment to the position of National Sports Coordinator otherwise also referred to as Director of Sports was to propose for the inaugural sports award ceremony. Before this platform was introduced, the sportsmen within the police service did not get the much needed support in terms of promotions and sometimes monetary rewards. It was an initiative which would act as a reminder to the high command to honour its sportsmen and women in various ways.
One Monday morning I walked into the IG’s office as a follow up to my written submission on the proposed introduction of an annual sports award ceremony.
“Of what essence will it be to the development of sport?” Mr ‘FK’ asked me. “We have Osward Mutapa who has recently contributed significantly to the development of soccer at national team level. This is besides the achievements he has scored for Nkwazi Football Club both as player and coach. And we have many more officers in other sporting disciplines that deserve your attention for the various accolades they brought to our institution the previous year” I responded.
In 2011, an event dubbed ‘The Sports Awards’ was given a go-ahead and we immediately held it under the theme, ‘Born to be Champions’ at Sandy’s Creation. This event included the coronation of our best coaches drawn from all our sporting disciplines, among other categories. All the sportsmen were to be clad in very colourful tracksuits except Osward. He attended the event dressed in a rankless police uniform because the IG, at my request, saw it fit to end a 9 year rank drought for a man whose passion for sport was unquestionable. His promotion to the rank of Assistant Superintendent was backdated to 2010 based on the 2010 achievements.
It was a relief on my part to begin my journey in that office having created a roadmap which would transition our gallant sportsmen and women to a desired destination. Gideon Mbao, Chris Kaunda, Yonah Phiri and many others basked in this reflective glow.
On one of my routine check at the training ground at edwin imboela stadium, a young officer who introduced himself as Yonah Phiri from Kabwata Police Station approached me and requested to understudy Osward for he had a passion to one day be like him. His wish was granted and today his CV is incredible. Everytime I meet Yonah, he reminds me of a day that he met me at the Imboela grounds; a day that changed his destiny. Our Women’s National Soccer Team qualified for the very first time to the Olympics. Just in case we missed this part, Yonah, is the Team’s goalkeeper Coach. Prior to this, Yonah was part of the success story of the triumphant under 20, which won the Africa Cup and further went onto greater heights at the World Cup. And by the way, Yonah, became the second cop in the history of Zambia Police to receive the President’s Insignia of Meritorious Achievement. I see Osward’s footprints in there; it is courtesy of him.
It is gratifying to note that I am not the only one who has come to terms with his value. Just last year, the National Sports Council of Zambia named him the best coach in our beloved country. # 1 pa ZED. But this feat seems not to have moved the powers that be. What more should he do to be upgraded to the next rank? It’s been over 10 years since he was last promoted for crying out loud!
Okay let’s trace his record;
1. He played for the National Soccer Team in 1997/1998
2. He won the under 20 COSAFA in 2010 as Head Coach
3. He won the COSAFA Under-17 (2019)
4. He won the COSAFA Under-20 (2019)
5. He won the President’s Cup to make it a hatrick of trophies (2019)
6. He currently deputises Milutin SREDOJEVIC at senior national team level.
He multi-tasks sport with police work having worked as Staff Officer and Operations Officer at District level. Take nothing away from his administrative prowess; he managed the administrative part of the football administration at one time when we decided to dissolve Nkwazi Football Club Exec Committee. But he remains rooted on the same rank.
I came across this interesting article written by Chibulu Ba Muzo Musonda below;
*OSWARD MUTAPA IS TRULY SPECIAL!*
Osward Mutapa was last night named the best male coach in Zambia for 2019 at the National Sports Council (NSCZ) awards last night.
I do not know of any Zambian coach ever who won two COSAFA titles in two months.
COSAFA themselves said the Zambia Under-17 and Zambia Under-20 triumphs in Malawi and Lusaka was unprecedented.
Mutapa masterminded both those triumphs over Angola and that resounding 3-0 defeat of South Africa at Nkoloma Stadium.
Now those exploits have been recognised with the senior Zambia Police Officer being named the best male coach for 2019 last night.
Congratulations to the future Chipolopolo gaffer!
I still don’t get it why he can’t head the Sports Office. Ignore Osward at your own peril. What we wish we had done would be a voice of regret speaking in a sorrowful tone at a time there would be no going back.
Wherever you are and whatever you are currently going through, remember the Sensei is always with you. I stand with you.