Zimbabwe: Calls Grow Louder for Revamp of Domestic Football

Senior Sports Reporter

THE calls for a fresh start to Zimbabwe’s football keep growing loud ahead of the scheduled special ZIFA Extraordinary Meeting set for this weekend in Harare.

Zimbabwean football has suffered from years of mismanagement which has slowly led the game to its deathbed in the last few years.

All the football stakeholders have felt the pinch in one way or the other leading to the recent interventions by the Sports and Recreation Commission and the calls by the ZIFA Congress for restoration.

Harare executive and an established player agent, Winston Makamure, who managed former Warriors skipper Peter Ndlovu for over 16 years, told The Herald that football was in a sorry state because of self-centred leaders who put personal interests ahead of the national badge.

“Zimbabwean football has been in a bad shape for a while. I think there are various stakeholders who can be classified differently and, what I hope for, for us to get it right, is that we need to have a common goal and a common national approach of saying “what is best for Zimbabwe as a country, what is best for Zimbabwean football to benefit the nation?”

“Right now we have a challenge. I think we have quite a number of people who push for their own personal interests and, where people are dominant with personal interests, those with national interests tend to sit back,” said Makamure. He said football has the capacity to attract big corporates because of its large following but the continued bickering and maladministration have contributed a lot in Zimbabwean football getting ostracised.

He said the coming in of FBC at short notice to sponsor the Warriors at the AFCON tournament was a sign that the corporate world is always ready to jump in if the environment is right.

“I am actually quite impressed with what FBC Holdings have done with the Warriors. There are a lot of corporates that would want to be part and parcel of our sports, in particular football, but you have to ask yourself why are they not committing?

“It’s so sad that we are saying gone are the days when Gwanzura was littered with advertising billboards and everyone was paying for those billboards towards the success and development of football.

“Now all the corporates have shied away. The bottom line is they shy away because we put our personal interests ahead of national interests. What people in football administration don’t realise is that the minute the nation is happy on the sports field, everyone is also happy.

“But I think we can salvage our football. It doesn’t need rocket science. Let’s just have a national focus and national interests and we can conquer the world,” said Makamure.

The Harare business executive managed top players who included Peter Ndlovu, the first African player to feature in modern English Premiership.

He said it could take Zimbabwe ages to produce top players in the mould of Ndlovu, under the current chaotic scenario. He said ZIFA lost their compass when they abandoned grassroots football, hence the need to start afresh.

“Not only did I manage Peter; I was also lucky to manage John Maduka who at that time was also the captain of Malawi when Peter was captain of Zimbabwe. What a brilliant player Peter was!

“Of course in any country you don’t have hundreds of Peter Ndlovus, in as much as you don’t have hundreds of Lionel Messis and Diego Maradonas in Argentina.

“But the development and the coming up to the top of Peter Ndlovu was not mere coincidence. It was a structured process from grassroots to schools, then junior football, club football and national football. All that is gone, we no longer have that here.

“As long as we don’t go back to those structures where the cream comes to the top because of the process of the structures at junior football development and well-managed professional football administration, we might actually suppress this talent.

“There is so much talent in Zimbabwe and I believe there is quite a number of Peter Ndlovus out there but it’s unfortunate the opportunity for that talent and skill is being hampered by the way we are managing our football,” said Makamure. The demise of deliberate polices to develop junior football ranks among the transgression committed by the ZIFA leadership.

Currently the board is under suspension, facing a litany of charges that includes, mismanagement of funds, sexual harassment of female referees, bribery and lack of professionalism. ZIFA leadership is facing certain possible implosion after disgruntled members of the association’s congress called for a special EGM, whose main agenda is to revoke the mandate of the suspended board members.

The suspended ZIFA board has been fighting tooth and nail to make sure the meeting does not happen despite it being provided for under Article 28 (2) of the ZIFA Constitution.

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