27 July 2012: Moment to shine and inspire
Young Zambian Participates in Torch Relay at London Olympics
By Mark Maseko
LUSAKA, Zambia, 27 July 2012 – A Zambian child under the UNICEF-supported International Inspiration Programme is among 8,000 Torchbearers in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic Games. Ceasar Chola Thaimu, 15, was selected as Zambia’s lone torch bearer through a competitive selection process held among young athletes nationwide.
Speaking in Lusaka on the eve of his departure for London, Ceasar could not hide his feelings at being his country’s representative in the Torch Relay across the United Kingdom. ‘This is a dream come true for me and my family. It feels great and will make me work hard in sports and in class,” said Ceasar amid jubilation from his Grade 11 classmates at Chelstone High School in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, who had converged to give him a send-off. “In life there are great things which you can get if you believe in yourself and work hard. Sport has helped change my character. I am now patient and have learned to work with other people to achieve something.”
Ceasar, the last born in a family of six, started playing football when he was seven-years-old and went to on join a soccer team in his community, Kaunda Square, run by local non-governmental organization, Sport In Action (SIA) with support from UNICEF Zambia. After proving himself as a good player, he was later appointed coach for the Under 10 team, a position he still holds. Ceasar has a two-pronged ambition of becoming an accountant and also a place on the senior Zambia National Soccer Team, the famous Chipolopolo Boys.
“We are very happy for Ceasar. As schools we need to feed the national [soccer] team. We need to promote children to higher levels so that they not only represent the county but also earn a living through sport,’ said Ceasar’s Sport Teacher, Patrick Mulenga.
Frank Muchindu, Executive Director of SIA, is serving as chaperone for Ceasar on the visit that will include school visits in London and Nottingham. “As Sport In Action, we are very happy to be involved in the International Inspiration (II) programme through which we partnered with UNICEF to provide life skills to over 3,000 Zambian children since 2009. We work with both in school and out-of-school young people on various issues including HIV prevention and drug abuse,” said Mr. Muchindu.
To demonstrate its support, Chelstone High School provided Ceasar with extra travel money for his miscellaneous expenses and permission to be off school for the period he needs to be in the United Kingdom. Margaret Shalala, the school’s Head Teacher, urges schools to pay attention to sporting activities.
“Learning is not just in class. Children meet different people through sport and learn about different cultures and other important things. Sport also teaches children to be disciplined and helps mould their behaviour and character, said Mrs Shalala.
Ceasar’s older brother, Frank Thaimu said that the family has played a big role in shaping his brother’s sporting prowess. “He is the only one who plays soccer in our family. He is very good. Our parents and all of us encourage him to play soccer. This feels really good,” said Frank.
Cesar is one of the young people selected from the 20 countries that are involved in the International Inspiration programme who are running as Torch Bearers prior to the opening of the London 2012 Olympics on 27 July. The Olympic organisers wanted to recognise the inspiring work that young people involved in the programme have done. UNICEF worked with the British Council in mobilizing nominations in Zambia, through local International Inspiration programme implementers Sport In Action, EDUSPORT, and SCORE.
The Olympic flame is a tradition continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia in Greece, a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. In the Modern Olympic Games, the flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. In 1936, the idea of having an Olympic Torch relay was devised and has been held ever since in host countries to spread the word about the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement.