A new era begins as Zambia’s U18 basketball teams qualify for 2024 FIBA U18 Afro Basket


For Paul Mwale and the Zambian basketball community, the recent qualification of the U18 men’s and women’s teams for the 2024 FIBA U18 Afro Basket tournaments in South Africa marks a significant milestone.

This accomplishment, occurring after a 35-year absence from the Afro Basket competition, is a testament to the diligent efforts invested in nurturing the sport within the country.

The last appearance of a Zambian team in the Afro Basket tournament dates back to 1989. Now, with both U18 squads set to compete on an international stage, there’s a palpable sense of achievement.

This success reflects the strategic efforts made to cultivate grassroots basketball in Zambia, a sentiment echoed by the men’s U18 team coach, Paul Mwale.

Guiding his team through a victorious qualifier against Zimbabwe, Mwale expressed his pride and optimism about Zambia’s basketball future.

“This qualification is a testament to our hard work at the grassroots level. We’ve been laying the groundwork for years, and now it’s paying off,” Mwale remarked in an interview with FIBA.basketball.

Mwale’s remarks highlight the pivotal role grassroots development has played in this success. The progress made by these young athletes underscores the dedication of coaches working tirelessly at the grassroots level.

Mwale hopes this achievement will motivate coaches nationwide, validating their efforts and inspiring them to aim even higher.

Despite this success, Mwale acknowledges the challenges ahead. A key issue is the need for improved scouting networks to ensure talented players from all regions have opportunities.

“Most of my under-18 team members come from the Midlands, with only one from the Copperbelt region,” Mwale noted, pointing out the uneven representation.

This disparity highlights a significant gap in Zambia’s basketball infrastructure, potentially leading to many talented players being overlooked.

“We might have missed a lot of talent due to inadequate scouting capabilities,” he said. Mwale calls for greater support from the government and the national federation to create a more equitable system for identifying and nurturing talent across the country.

As Zambia prepares to face strong opponents like Egypt, Madagascar, Angola, Mali, and Uganda, Mwale is clear about the team’s ambitions.

“We are not just participating; we are competing!” he asserted. While recognizing the experience of their rivals, Mwale is confident in Zambia’s potential to make a significant impact.

Mwale views the tournament not only as a competition but also as a learning opportunity. “We have much to learn from countries like Angola, Egypt, and Uganda, who consistently qualify for these tournaments,” he said.

The success of these nations in AfroBasket tournaments offers valuable insights that Zambia can adopt to strengthen its basketball program.

The foundation for a promising future in Zambian basketball is being laid. The success of the U18 teams has ignited excitement and optimism within the basketball community.

This momentum must be sustained to ensure the sport’s continued growth, providing opportunities for future generations of Zambian athletes.

Mwale envisions a future of ongoing progress and development. By addressing scouting challenges and securing necessary support, Zambia can build on this success and establish itself as a competitive force in African basketball.

The journey has just begun, and Zambia’s basketball resurgence story is one of hope, dedication, and a belief in the potential of its young athletes.

As Zambia gears up for the 2024 FIBA U18 Afro Basket tournaments, the nation stands united in support of its teams. Their success is not just a win on the court but a testament to what can be achieved through dedication, hard work, and a shared vision for the future of Zambian basketball.

Source : FIBA

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