ZIMBABWE National Women Football aspiring chairperson Miriam Sibanda has promised to bring back the game for the girl child and to involve more women into football.
Women’s football has gone down in the past two years due to a dearth in sponsorship.
Sibanda (44) will face the incumbent, women football boss Mavis “Iron Lady” Gumbo on March 15 in elections for the top post.
The election has been postponed for the second time to March 15 after the earlier scheduled February 28 and March 9 dates were aborted.
In an interview with Standardsport, Sibanda said her heart was bleeding for women’s football, which is the reason why she decided to come on board and challenge Gumbo.
“I could not say no to the chance of a lifetime that I had been waiting for all my life,” Sibanda said.
“The reason why I made a decision to challenge Gumbo for the hot seat is to make the girl child play again and bring more women into football.”
She added, “To be honest, I was approached by a number of clubs and football stakeholders that include sponsors asking me to take up the challenge after they had seen my contribution in the Northern Region Division One league where I administer Twalumba FC. From what they have seen, they thought I might be of great assistance.”
The former journalist then spoke about the non-existence of the women football league in the 2013 soccer season.
“In 2012, a women football league bankrolled by Marange Diamonds was born. Everyone celebrated for the birth of a new project. It only lasted one year before disappearing with clubs failing to kick the ball the entire 2013 soccer season. So what I would want is to make the girls play again and bring more women into football administration. We are not saying we don’t want men into this, but surely this is our thing, we need to be in it.”
She said as soon as she got into office, she would work around the clock to make sure that women came into football.
“We will work tirelessly to bring more women into it as coaches, administrators, referees as well as encouraging women to come to match venues to watch other women playing.”
Sibanda said to achieve this they would strengthen grassroots through working hand-in-hand with the relevant ministry, as well as setting up national junior structures.
She also spoke about effective communication, which she said had been a big letdown in many associations.
“There should be constant communication with sponsors and stakeholders for transparency purposes.”
Sibanda reckons that of late, there has been a shift in women football governance. She said there have been a lot of changes in rules and regulations, with the major one being that women are now required to lead women football in all the countries that subscribe to Fifa, before adding that she was ready to take Zimbabwean women football to the levels expected by Fifa.
“There are a number of things that Fifa expect, including the administration of the sport. I will be more than willing to bring transparency and professionalism to [women] football.”
Asked about what she thought the previous leadership was failing to do, Sibanda said she was not qualified to talk about that.
“What I can only tell you is that clubs were not playing last year. I cannot talk about other people’s failures. What I want is to get in there to make women start playing football, bring more into football, as well as transparency in governance.”
Sibanda’s rich football history
Sibanda has a rich history in football dating from her days as a journalist.
“I would sometimes see myself at Barbourfields Stadium writing a match report for big clubs like Highlanders or Zimbabwe Saints. I was willing to learn football. As a company we then moved in to sponsor Black Mambas before we bought our own franchise and started our own thing, Twalumba FC. But I hope the best lady will win for the good of the game,” she concluded.