Zambia’s small town and growing club’s journey to the Premier League (with help from Kanoute) – The Athletic


The flight from the UK to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, can take over 24 hours. No wonder then that few European clubs send their scouts to this South East African country and its neighbors in search of football talent, especially when there is no guarantee that the long journey will be worth it.

The path to European leagues for young Zambian players has been difficult to navigate, but tomorrow (Sunday) two members of the country’s national team could face each other for the first time in the Premier League – and this is due to a club in Kafue, a small town in Lusaka province.

Leicester’s Patson Daka and Brighton’s Enock Mwepu traveled a similar route from their home country to RB Salzburg, via Austrian food club Liefering, before impressing enough to get the dream moves they had discussed at the ‘adolescence.

Their journeys began at Kafue Celtic, a club founded and managed by former Zambia FA delegate Lee Kawanu almost 20 years ago, and now advised by former West Ham United striker Tottenham Hotspur and Sevilla Freddie. Kanoute and his company 12 Management.

From humble beginnings, Celtic, who even play in green and white hoops as their Glaswegian inspiration, now aspires to become one of the largest producers of local talent for European clubs in Southern Africa.

Here, Kawanu and Kanoute tell The Athletic the story of Celtic, Daka, and Mwepu, and their plans to uncover other hidden gems.


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