Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.

Utrecht could learn a lot from Zambian football

(c) Robert Oosterbroek

“My life is fairly unstructured, rather like my life story”, laughs Sydney Sinkamba. It only takes three sentences to realise what this man is all about: football. According to Sydney, this is the way to unite people. He was one of Zambia’s top players, representing his country in the under-23 squad. Football made him who he is today. “Standards and values, discipline, confidence; football teaches you everything you need to function in society.”

If his parents had let him, Sydney would have played football all day in his hometown of Chingola. But as parents do, they wanted him to focus on school. Sydney was unstoppable, and finally managed to make his dream come true and obtain a diploma. He worked his way to the top of the Zambian football world. Unfortunately, his dreams were soon shattered. Having been selected for the national team, he injured his ankle so seriously that he had to give up football altogether. “It was a very difficult time. I’d only ever been interested in football and I suddenly had to think about what else life had to offer.”

Sydney started working in an internet café in Livingstone, Zambia, where he discovered computers. He took a few courses and started his own computer repair company. In 2010, he used the money he’d earned to set up YEDS (the Youth Empowerment and Development through Sport foundation). He was still passionate about football and saw sport as the perfect way to help keep young people on the straight and narrow. Sydney was keen to help wherever he could and during one of his projects in Zambia, he met a Dutch woman. They got married and in 2013, and he moved to the Netherlands.

‘Fabulous Dutch football pitches’
There was a football pitch just three hundred metres from his home in the Netherlands. Sydney was in awe of this green expanse with its perfectly straight white lines and joined the amateur club within a week.

His marriage hit the rocks and he is now in a new relationship and living in Utrecht. Sydney likes the city and feels at home there. “The people are very friendly and interested. Even the local authority is receptive to new ideas and initiatives.” He trains various football teams, including at D.H.S.C., Hercules and Kampong, and does voluntary work for the Salvation Army, Humanitas, Taal Doet Meer and Harten voor Sport. “Helping each other, showing an interest; that’s what’s important in life.” He’d never heard of loneliness in Zambia, but has since become painfully aware of its existence. He thinks that people in Utrecht should help each other more, simply because they can. Every week, he goes to the Rivierenwijk district to dance with a group of elderly people, for example. The oldest woman is 85. “Moving to the music, just being together; what could be better?” He now dreams of setting up his own football academy in Utrecht. “Utrecht could learn a lot from the Zambian approach to football and society.”

Name: Sydney Sinkamba
Place of birth: Chingola, Zambia
Date of birth: 28 September 1979
Motto: ‘Just live!’

Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.

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