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Elemon Sakala Junior was born in Eastern Zambia, Nyimba, on August 27th 1978 (though official documents wrongly have 1980). He is married to Kristien Kloosterman. He grew up in a Christian and sporting family and his father founded several football clubs and is among the pioneers of Matero Tigers (now Lusaka Tigers FC).
After High school, Elemon pursued a career in football and flourished. In 2006, a lucrative deal came to play in South Africa’s top tier. However, his dream to ply his trade in football came crashing on March 3rd 2006, when he was left for dead by unknown killers, weeks before signing.
His journey to South Africa took a turn from soccer to studying a degree in Theology and graduated in 2009. In 2010, Elemon founded Victorious LIFE, an organisation that offers chaplaincy services to the Zambian sports industry. Victorious LIFE trains chaplains in sports and is also at the centre of chaplaincy services provision at all levels of sports in Zambia. The organisation runs several sports academies in both rural and urban set up, training up children and youth, coaching them for life with a holistic approach to sports.
Elemon has served as a sports chaplain since 1995 (he pioneered sports chaplaincy in Zambia), in his teen-footballing days, with great passion. He and the chaplaincy team serve the Zambian National Soccer teams, the Zambian Premier and lower League teams, Individual athletes in different disciplines, The Olympic Youth Development Centre and the Dhamitee Christian schools. Elemon and the Victorious LIFE chaplaincy team were the first (and only) providers of chaplaincy services to female athletes in different sporting disciplines in Zambia.
He is also the mind behind the famous “Favour” slogan which became viral at Nkana in 2013 and the household name of “Bola Na Lesa” (Football with God) in Zambia, a holistic ‘philosophy’ which contributed to the revival of Zambian football and the revelation of disciplined athletes whose holistic needs were met. The 2016/17 Zambia Under Twenty boys team are known as the Bola na Lesa team and generation. Bola na Lesa is a treasured product consumed by the majority of athletes in Zambia and in some parts of Europe, (Austria, Belgium, Sweden, and others).
Elemon holds a Masters degree in Theology and he is a PhD candidate. His research topic being: The value and influence of chaplaincy in the holistic development of athletes. He has also studied International Relations and has vast experience as a behaviourist, social psychologist/scientist and business coach – his passion is also in Organisational Behaviour, Emotional Intelligence and sports psychology, which he views as fitting into sports chaplaincy.
The value and influence of chaplaincy in the holistic development of athletes
Zambia has witnessed a tremendous upward growth in the awareness of the pastoral needs
especially among the elite and professional athletes, in all the sporting disciplines. This increase in
awareness also reflects the ‘Glocal’ (global and local) pastoral needs in professional sports. One UK
chaplain observed that “afternoon is a difficult time for players. Loads of elite sportsmen have
addictive personalities, but they can not do drugs because they are tested every week. In
professional sports, there are massive highs followed by real lows – but when you are not playing,
where does the rush come from? So they do a lot of gambling or gaming – so they are betting on
Asian football, dog racing, or whatever” Betting is cancerous to sports. However, sports people live
in a world that is anxiety and performance driven. Performance is what defines them, and their selfesteem is obtained through their success or failure. Winning is what matters and is often the only
focus and goal. The main challenge for many athletes is that they do not feel free to open up to team
supporting staff about the ‘routine’ challenges and the difficulties they face every day. The reason
could be rooted in mistrust and fear that if they open up, it would influence their position in their
team or attract the media. Can chaplaincy solve this problem?
Sports chaplaincy is the provision of holistic pastoral care and spiritual guidance to those of all
faiths and none, for the well-being of all those involved in sports, their families and networks. A
Sports Chaplain is an appointed minister who provides pastoral care and spiritual guidance to
people involved in sport and heir loved ones, who serves the sports person holistically – body, soul
and spirit (body, mind and will) – spiritually, personally, and athletically.
Racism in professional sports
African athletes’ participation in international competitions keeps on rising and their signi cance in sports is trailed with a rich record of achievements in multiple sporting disciplines, nationally, continentally and globally (at the Olympics, in UEFA Champions League or the FIFA world cups). Football is arguably the biggest global sport and African footballers have had their fare share of success in this sport. George Weah (Liberian President) won the 1995 world footballer of the year. Nigeria, the record winners, (5) and Ghana (2) alone have won the FIFA U17 men’s world cup (gold medals) seven times, while making a whooping 13 appearances in the nals between them, inclusive of their silver medals. African teams have 16 medals in total at the youth championships (7 gold, 5 silver ans medals ave made it 19 times in the semi nals of the U17 FIFA (men) world cup. African are record champions.
While there’s such undisputed and unrivalled success by African athletes, there remains an undefeated mountain, solid as it has always been with sharp edges, and it is the cancerous mountain of racism. Athletes of African ethnicity top the list of the most racially abused in all football and other sports disciplines. Despite FIFA putting in place measures to deal with this epidemic, racism keeps growing in the global game. Athletes have spoken out and even abandoned matches by leaving the pitch, but occurrences are repetitive. Sections of soccer faithfuls, pundits and stakeholders feel racism has not received the same support from governing Bodies as homophobia has, and they suggest that if FIFA would stiffen the laws against racism and implement them religiously, it could bring new hope against the damaging effects the racist attacks have on athletes’ social and emotional lives, careers, psychological and mental health.
Elemon Sakala Jr