The sentiment has been that it is cast in stone that every selection has to accommodate people on regional basis. This is all part of an unwritten quota system.
This has also sucked in journalists with the Sports Writers Association of Zimbabwe being accused of voting for the Soccer Star of the Year finalist on regional basis.
The debate resurfaced recently following Zifa’s suspension of more than 80 players from the Warriors set-up and the entire technical team that was led by Norman Mapeza for being implicated in the Asiagate scandal.
The association re-appointed one of Zimbabwe’s most successful coaches, Rahman Gumbo on interim basis to lead the Warriors coaching staff with former Dynamos mentor, David Mandigora, coming in as his assistant. The appointments appear to be a delicate balancing act.
There is no reason why national team players or coaches have to be chosen on regional lines juggling between Northern region (Harare) and Southern region (Bulawayo). People have to be chosen on merit.
Coaches should have made certain achievements and players have to meet the required benchmarks.
The coaches should in turn select players that are commanding first team places at their local or foreign clubs.
As for the new appointments that Zifa has done, it is up to the fans and other stakeholders to give them maximum support, especially young coaches like the legendary Peter Ndlovu who has been appointed as the Under-23 coach.
But there are lessons to learn if we are to avoid labelling people by the regions they come from.
Zifa should put their house in order and take advantage of their constitution reviewing process to include some regulations that will result in the formation of a selection committee and the revival of the Technical Committee.
A lot has been happening in the cricket circles, but when it comes to player’s selection, they have a committee responsible for that.
Zifa must take a leaf from that and come up with a player’s selection committee that will do the job with the assistance of other coaches. It is difficult for the technical team members to move around all corners of the country identifying players, but it can be easy for the selection committee to do that.
The technical committee will be responsible for the selection of coaches for all national teams. This will help to avoid conflict of interest.
In our case some of our board members are managers of certain players hence they might want to take such chances to push for their players who might not be good for national team call-ups.
Again it does not give coaches much room to abuse their offices by bringing in players from their regions or from their personal clubs.
Zifa must create a technical team urgently that will be constituted by representatives from coaches, referees, players, administrators, PSL, soccer fans, sports writers and others.
Taking back the hands of the clock to 1992 when the country had the famous Dream Team under the tutelage of the late German-born coach Reinhard Fabisch, Highlanders had eight players that commanded first team places but fans did not complain because the players were extremely good. No one doubted their presence in the team.
Let’s not allow regionalism to kill our beautiful game of football.
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