Bwalya: A coming of age
© LOC

FIFA.com: You're one of African football's all-time greats. What does hosting the first FIFA World Cup on African soil in 2010 mean to you personally?
Kalusha Bwalya:
As an African it means pride, joy and recognition. I am proud to have been part of the bid and now as a technical consultant. I am proud that together we will make history. I am overjoyed that FIFA has bestowed this responsibility to our beautiful continent.

Do you recall the emotions you felt on 15 May 2004, when the famous envelope was opened by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, and the name 'South Africa' emerged?
I distinctly remember being totally overjoyed and filled with honour and pride. I felt all the emotions of the past footballers and my own. I have attempted to participate in four World Cups to date, in qualifiers for the 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998 tournaments and even as coach in qualifying for 2006, yet it always eluded me. With the announcement, a distant dream became a reality.

What does it mean to you to serve as an ambassador for the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
It means being able to share my experiences and knowledge of the game with the LOC as a technical consultant as well as my passion for the game with all other related stakeholders.

In your new role as President of the Football Association of Zambia, how do you see the hosting of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup impacting on football development in Africa?
The World Cup is a great motivator for each and every African particularly since it will be played on African soil. As Africans we are using the World Cup as a catalyst for change: for upgrading development and infrastructure and for change in corporate involvement in the sport which will impact on the development of the game which in turn will have a positive impact on communities.

How will your roles as President of the Football Association of Zambia and Ambassador for the 2010 FIFA World Cup contribute to the advancement of African football?
Football is my passion and I am committed to making a difference. Being an ambassador allows me to do so as well as be part of history at the same time.

How do you see the hosting of the two tournaments in South Africa impacting on world football in general?
I believe world football will finally see that the African game has come of age and that it is a force to be reckoned with.

As one of the most capped players in the history of your national team, having played at the highest level, how important is it for South Africa and other African teams to perform well at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
It is absolutely essential! Over the years international competition has brought out the best of African football and I believe that the first World Cup in Africa will propel African teams to reach unprecedented heights. It is also important that African teams do well as a means to unify our continent, to remind us that we are all brothers and sisters in the name of peace.

African football has been on the rise in general and African players are performing at their peak in the world's top leagues. Could we see the first African world champion in 2010?
Why not? The levels that have been achieved in African football over the years have been on the rise. The strength of the Ivorians, the consistency of Egypt, the potential of Nigeria, the 'never say die' attitude of Cameroon, by way of examples. These attributes could have great impact on the championship.

What kind of message would you like to send to the rest of the world regarding South Africa's readiness to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
I would like the rest of the world to know that Africa's beauty runs as deep as its mineral wealth. It lies deeply embedded in the hearts and souls of the African people. It is the liberated beauty of a continent on the ascent, contradicting preconceptions and stereotypes, as it rises to take its position as a global leader. Africa is a continent of infinite possibilities. From the Cape to Cairo - African people reflect a landscape of promise.

What are your hopes for the continent beyond the tournaments?
My hopes for this continent are that we start to look at ourselves introspectively and celebrate our uniqueness as Africans. That the world will recognise that the mineral wealth of our continent is easily eclipsed by the rich warmth, friendliness and beauty of African people. That our proud heritage as Africans propels us to new heights of development and self pride.