Norway Cup: We Play from the Heart and Head

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Zambia at Norway Cup 2013

For the team from Zambia is not the equipment and kit that is a factor when playing good football.

We want to be the best: It is 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night and from a distance you can hear who is playing on Pitch 15 at Ekeberg. A large crowd has gathered on the touchlines, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind from the atmosphere here, that Zambia has a team in the Norway Cup after an absence of several years.

The match in the Under 19’s Boys (Class A) is in progress between Pro-Elite Sports from Lusaka in Zambia and Tynset 2 from Hedmark in Norway. The first half was a relatively poor one, yet the free-spirited Zambians put in a performance slightly better than their opponents – resulting in a 1-0 lead to the Africans at half-time.

The second half saw a marked improvement from both teams – with chances coming thick and fast. A goal from Tynset 2 early in the second period tied the score at 1-1.

This was a wake-up call for the team from the capital city of Zambia- prompting them to play their free-flowing style of football. With this, the goals started come at regular intervals, much to the delight of the celebrating Zambian fans on the touchlines.

By the time we reached the final whistle Pro-Elite Sports had come away with a 6-1 victory. The flags were waving, the crowd was dancing, and the famous Zambian national team chant rang out. “Chipolopoloooo Yeaaah! Chipolopoloooo Yeaaah!”

Norway Cup – what an experience!

Zambians are known for being friendly and open people, and it was clearly in evidence when two extremely cheerful and friendly boys spoke to the Norway Cup Newspaper after the game. Mumba Mwape (14) and Captain Mphanga Chioza (17), both from the capital Lusaka, told us they really like being at the Norway Cup.

– Being here is amazing. It is such a great experience – one we can take home with us, said a smiling Mumba.

– Absolutely, added captain Mphanga.

– This is an opportunity and experience that is good for the whole team. Now we have something special to build our unity and team spirit on. This benefits us in many ways. And in addition, it is fun to meet players of our own age from many different cultures. Talking to Germans and teaching some of our local Nyanja language to them, along with the dancing at the cultural exchange with the Brazilians, it is so exciting!

The players on the Zambian side are only between 13 and 17 years, yet they play in the Under 19 Class. They are aware that it can be tough throughout the tournament now when their youngest and smallest players play matches against much bigger and more physical Norwegian nineteen year olds.

– Our goal is to get as far as possible. Of course we want to win the whole tournament, and we also believe that we can actually do it, but we’ll just do the best we can and see how it goes, says Mumba.

– And then it is also really exciting to play here in Europe. Some of us have just finished High School, so that will also help us improve ourselves educationally – along with training and developing ourselves as footballers – we might one day play professionally, which is something many of us want to do. Therefore it is good to go and play in other parts of the world apart from just Zambia, said the 17 year old captain.

Our families have sacrificed everything

Both Mphanga and Mumba smile broadly as they talk, and it is obvious that they really appreciate being able to participate in the tournament, not to mention winning games as they have just done. But the road to Norway and Norway Cup has not been easy.

– We had some national sponsors, but they pulled out, so we’ve worked hard to still have the opportunity to come here. Our parents have sacrificed a lot and helped, while some of the players’ parents helped and made sure that the other players on the squad who have not managed to get paid to make the journey, have also been able to join us. That someone volunteered to show up and help in this way has meant a lot for us, said a clearly touched captain.

Rumour has it that it was just two days before their arrival in Norway the team called their contact here to confirm that they would be arriving as planned, and apparently they didn’t bring much equipment and luggage.

From a Norwegian view, one might say that the guys from Southern Africa arrived somewhat unprepared for the country and the tournament, but the players totally disagree with this.

– Admittedly, we had only with us two poor quality balls and a few cones, but it’s not the kit that matters. It’s true what you say, we might not have been prepared very well when it comes to equipment and clothes, but it has never been our focus. We have put all our energy into preparing ourselves mentally for this. Soccer for us is not about equipment and supplies, it’s about that thing sitting up in your head and what you have deep in your heart, said Mphanga.

About Chris Rock

Chris is a freelance journalist and football fan from the UK with a love of Norway. He works through his own business, Vertis Media House, currently reporting from the Norway Cup in Oslo.

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