Zambia’s rugby players are about to enter uncharted territory.
The destination is Australia’s Gold Coast; the reason for their journey is the Commonwealth Games. This is, by some distance, the biggest stage the country’s sevens team has played on.
If that doesn’t sound daunting enough, there’s another caveat. Zambia has been drawn in a pool with Canada, Kenya, and — wait for it — New Zealand.
The All Blacks, as well as being the world’s most famous rugby-playing nation, are four-time Commonwealth champions. A terrifying prospect on the one hand.
But on the other, it presents Zambia’s semi-professional players with massive opportunities to achieve recognition on a global scale and for the sport to gain popularity back home.
The atmosphere within the team, needless to say, is buoyant.
“It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” vice-captain Guy Lipschitz tells CNN Sport. “I’m really excited to play against the game’s biggest, top-tier sides. Zambia has obviously come quite a long way in terms of playing second-tier teams.
“Zambia has progressed a lot in a year, year and a half … In terms of the popularity of the sport, I think it will be huge, having that exposure for the sevens.”