FOUNDING Zimbabwe Woman Soccer League (ZWSL) chairperson and former Zifa board member Susan Chibizhe has urged incoming woman football boss Miriam Sibanda to work together with her predecessor Mavis Gumbo.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Sibanda beat Gumbo 22-20 in an election held last weekend.
Chibizhe, who was involved in woman football for 10 years until her suspension in 2004, said she regretted that there was no proper hand-over take-over when she was booted out of office.
“People should not make the same mistake that was made when I was suspended as the ZWSL chairperson. People who came after me did not know the plans we had in place,” said Chibizhe in a wide-ranging interview with Standardsport.
“In the end women football became the biggest casualty and such a mistake should not be repeated. Had there been a proper hand-over take-over with the board that I led, the Mighty Warriors would by now have risen to be the number one team in Africa.
“Like every human being, Gumbo has her shortcomings, but we should also remember the good things she did for women football. She brought in a number of sponsors, reviving the Mighty Warriors brand in the process. Sibanda should be in a position to consult her.”
Chibizhe, who was suspended on allegations of trying to unseat the Rafiq Khan-led board together with Leonard Nkala, Pharaoh Jele, Addmore Nyamuramba, Andrew Tapela, Francis Zimunya, Robert Chisvo and Aaron Munautsi, said it was high time personality clashes were put aside.
“It is sad that we get too engrossed in trying to pull each other down. There should be unity of purpose. I think as a woman in the board, I was a unifier,” said Chibizhe, who started as chairperson for Harare Province Woman Soccer League in 1993 before rising to be chair of the first national board in 1997.
“We worked very hard for the Mighty Warriors brand to compete with the best in Africa. I remember when we launched the brand in 1997. Winnie Mandela was the guest of honour on that day and we beat Namibia 7-0. The women’s team was the first to qualify for Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] before the men’s team. We were also the first to host the Cosafa Women’s Football Tournament in 2002. That momentum should have been maintained.”
She, however, fired a salvo at the current Zifa board for setting the electoral fee to participate in the board at an exorbitant US$5 000 as well as for lack of accountability.
“I wanted to contest for the Zifa chairperson’s post but the US$5 000 electoral fee is just exorbitant. I would rather donate the money to victims of Tokwe-Mukosi floods. When we participated in the 2010 elections, I paid US$700, but there is no accountability as to how that money was used. During our time in the Zifa board, Sports and Recreation Commission would ask for receipts” she asked.
Chibizhe, who was part of the Zifa board that took Zimbabwe to its first ever Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2004, added that it was high time a woman was elevated to the post of board member technical in the board.
“People like Rosemary Mugadza have been in the coaching structures for a long time and should now be elevated to the board. It is my belief that there should be a psychologist in the Mighty Warriors set up, as was the case during our time. As the chairperson, you must know your players,” said the Level One coaching certificate holder.
Chibizhe, who lost to Gumbo in her comeback bid in 2010, also regretted the alleged abuse that girls suffered during camp with the late Yesmore Mutero at one time alleging that a member of the technical team had infected her with the HIV virus.
“We must put structures that protect the girls and those tasked with looking after the girls should be fatherly figures,” she said.
Currently, she is working with Francis Zimunya in an organisation called Lifelongfootballerszim which caters for former footballers and administrators.
“Our main concern is the welfare of former players. We have now sealed a deal with Nyaradzo that will see players being assisted when death visits,” she said.