As many claim, investing in a girl’s education is investing in a nation. Priscilla Katoba, A colonel in the Zambia Army is doing just that.
Col Katoba is the Chair lady of the Zambia Army-sponsored Green Buffaloes Women’s team a position she has held since 2014. The Army command usually changes the people leading the various teams they sponsor but somehow either by design or mere coincidence, Col Katoba has been left at the helm of the best Women’s team in the country.
The Colonel does not just treat the girls like her Children and help them reach their full potential but also sends them to school to make sure they get an education.
At the moment she is currently sponsoring five Green Buffaloes players including Zambia U20 Women’s striker Maylan Mulenga.
Buffaloes Women’s team contributes over half the Women’s national team. One of them being midfield ace Mary Mwakapila who is full of praise for the Colonel.
“She is like no other. She makes sure we have everything we need,” Mwakapila said.
Col Katoba is also the proprietor of the Best Women’s team in Central Province, Queens Academy.
The Sokafrika Crew traveled to Kabwe last week to get first-hand information on what is happening at the Academy. The ZamFoot Crew found the team busy going through their paces in a Tuesday afternoon training session.
Assistant coach Richmond Hadunka spared time to speak to the Sokafrika Crew just to explain the philosophy of the club.
He explained that the Academy was different from other teams because it gave the girls a chance to continue their school by sponsoring those who do not have people to sponsor them.
“Our philosophy is based on developing young players to prepare them for the future. We draw players from the communities around so that we can groom them,” Hadunka told the Sokafrika Crew.
“We are getting players who are not in school or they have withdrawn from school due to financial difficulties and taking them back to school and the Academy shoulders the costs and provides them with all other necessities.”
Joyce Mwandila is the female coach and Matron of the team. She explained to the ZamFoot Crew how they help the players with life general and not just football.
“My job is basically to make sure all the needs of the girls are in place,” She said.
“It’s a bit of a challenge because these girls come from different places. We need to help them to live within their means and not emulate what they see from outside. We also help them plan for life after football because football has an age limit and when you can’t play any more what happens then?
“We don’t just take the girls to the pitch to train and play football but we also make sure they are in school.”
Meanwhile, Niza Ndhlovu a striker who is in Grade 12 advised young girls who are talented in football to always work hard for their dreams.
Niza has been sponsored by the Academy since she was in grade eight.
“At Queens Academy, they have been sponsoring my school from grade eight and now am in grade 12. For my friends who may not have the same opportunities, I can only encourage them to work hard and have faith. They say you need to sweat for sweet,” She said.
“I have been exposed to even play for the U-17 because of Queens Academy.”
Elina Chanda a defender on the other hand dreams of owning an academy one day.
” Queens Academy is a good team and I have developed in my football here because of the setup. I want to go far in my football, Play for the national team, Go abroad and in future open my own academy,” She said.
Women’s football in Zambia has surely developed in the last few years though you can’t single out individuals in this great achievement one can surely commend and appreciate the work done by the Colonel in helping to make sure that Zambian Women’s football is on an upward trajectory.
Col Katoba is always at the Arakan Barracks football pitch cheering her team, She even travels with them on away games and also splits her time between Lusaka and Kabwe to make sure Queens Academy also has her full support.
Col Katoba was the delegation leader for the Zambia U-17 national team at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s tournament.