Ever since news filtered through that the Zambian FA are planning to introduce the foreign player’s policy in order to promote local talent and nurturing local talent with the hope of producing some world-class talent.
The football fraternity in the country is still split over the implementation of this policy and how well it will benefit the country. Many people in the football fraternity and the fans at large are resigned to adding their voice on the matter because they don’t know what number of foreign players will be allowed on each team.
They would rather wait until the FA announces how the policy will be rolled out. However the case may be, the importation of foreign talent into the local league has a number of merits and demerits.
Here are some of the merits of foreign talent in the local league.
1. The importation of foreign talent into the local league helps to improve the quality of the league and makes the games more interesting to watch. The viewership of the local league tends to increase due to the foreign talent that is in the league. Be it at the stadia or on television, more people tend to get more interest in watching the league both locally and Internationally more especially in countries where the foreign talents are coming from.
2. Commercially the league tends to attract more sponsorship because of foreign talent. For example, when Juventus signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, Supersport at the time never had TV rights for the Serie A. Due to this move alone, the pay Television station was able to acquire rights to televise the Serie A. For the Serie A, the league attracted sponsorship and viewership too. Therefore, foreign talent help to improve the commercial image of the league at the clubs alike.
3. Foreign talents help to improve the competitiveness of the local players. When the position of the local players is threatened in the team, they tend to be more competitive in order to maintain their place in the team. When local players become competitive, they will take their competitive spirit even to the national team. However, it must be noted that this is not automatic. What is actually helps to achieve is to remove complacency in the minds of the local players.
4. Local teams become more competitive in both the local and international club competitions. For example, Zesco United in 2016 went all the way to the Semi-Finals of the CAF Champions League. It is worth noting that the core of the team was the best local talent and foreign talent blended together. And it must be mentioned the team has been the most consistent team in the local league and many local players have remained competitive in order to fend of competition from the foreign players. The greatest beneficiary of this has been the club which is consistently participating in international club competitions every season.
5. The importation of foreign talent into the local league helps local academies to become more organised in the hope of nurturing local talent to compete favourably with foreign imports. The greatest fear which results in curbing the number of foreign players on each team is that of not having enough local talent having the required amount of game time to benefit the national team. If academies get more organised and focus on producing more technically prepared players to meet the demands of the top leagues be it on the African continent or elsewhere, then foreign players should be allowed to flourish in the local league. Clubs have a major responsibility for producing technically astute players who will flourish in any part of the world. Clubs should prioritise academies before a policy of curbing foreign players is put in place.
The foreign player’s policy if not well handled will end de- marketing the local league. The league has seen it’s grading improve because of the strides clubs have made in ensuring that the acquire some of the best talents dotted around the continent and beyond. Does Zambia need a foreign player’s policy?