My Cultural Heritage and Informatics (CHI) project will be an interactive web based history of soccer (football) in Zambian towns. The project will be centered on my ongoing doctoral dissertation research at Michigan State University. Drawing on archival and oral primary sources I collected in Zambia in 2008 during research for my Masters’ Thesis and 2012 pre-dissertation research, the project will focus on the political and social history of football in Zambia from 1940s to date.
The project will have two main components; the first part will be a map interface that will be built in Mapbox. This will be an interactive map of Zambia that will be the front page of the site and will provide introductory information to the project. It will also show ten towns that are connected by the main rail line in Zambia that have a long history of football. The towns will include: Chililabombwe, Chingola, Mufulira, Luanshya, Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe, Lusaka, Mazabuka and Livingstone. The second part will be the detail page that will have the site structure, design, content and commenting or contributions features that will be built in WordPress. When one clicks on one of the towns in the map interface, the site will jump to the town’s detail page that will have a football history narrative of the town. Images, archival evidence and other sources such as oral histories will also be provided to support the narrative. The detail pages will also provide space where users will be able to make comments and suggestions to the narrative and other sources uploaded to the site.
Generally, football communities are always in need of well-documented information and evidence of the existence great football clubs and players in their communities. While this will be a scholarly project, it will not be limited to scholars only because Zambian men and women of different ages and educational levels are very interested in the game and have varying experiences and insights that they can contribute. The project will be open to make sure that all who are able to read, comment and participate in anyway are given an opportunity to do so. The goal is to bring out the role football has been playing in people’s lives in each town starting from the historical development of football clubs, individual players, supporters and football communities at large.
As primary sources on the history of football in Zambia are not easy to find, the interactive nature of the project will provide an opportunity for people interested in the game to participate and collaboratively play a role in the reconstruction of the history of football in each of the Zambian towns. The current enthusiasm in the game provides fertile ground for a public scholarly project that can give people an opportunity to participate in the reconstruction of the history of football in their communities.