By Mulenga Chapoloko in Kitwe
Athletics icon Samuel Matete wants more efforts at the grassroots aimed at unearthing young runners who can help Zambia reap medals in international competitions.
Matete believes lower level athletics especially in clubs and school has not been receiving the much needed attention.
The 1996 Olympic Silver-medalist is looking forward to a time when Zambia will produce runners that can surpass his achievements in the sport.
Matete won a gold medal at the 1991 World Championships and was twice silver medalist at the same event.
He further minted a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics and gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games
“It is very important that we go the grassroots way which is the basics of developing athletes. At the moment we don’t have very good athletes that can represent us well because we have neglected grassroots development,” Matete told TIO Sport in Kitwe.
“As they say catch them young. We need to nurture young athletes that can become great in the near future,” he said.
Matete has since returned to coaching after forming an athletics academy at Kitwe Playing Field which has attracted scores of youngsters.
The former World 400 metres hurdles champion is seeking to nurture splinters at his academy.
“I have decided to start training athletes. I am now very much into coaching; I want to produce splinters. I have returned to the grassroots to train kids and help them to be fast.
“I am looking forward to producing more splinters for Zambia. I am working with kids mostly from nearby schools like Helen Kaunda, Kitwe Boys and Mitanto. It is amazing that more kids are coming to Kitwe Playing Fields. I have to train them and expose them to competitions. Whenever there is a competition for Zambia Amateur Athletics Association (ZAAA) I will take them so that they showcase their talent,” he said.
Matete was once an athletics instructor at the High Performance Training Centre in Mauritius.
The International Athletics Associations Federation (IAAF) in 2009 appointed Matete as coach at the Mauritius based training centre.
On return to Zambia, ZAAA appointed him national coach but couldn’t take up the role for personal reasons.