Few people expected Phillip Chiyangwa to be elected the new president of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
Now that it has happened, the football family should get used to it and give Chiyangwa and his board all the support they need.
Surely, Chiyangwa was not everyone’s preferred choice, but the Zifa council has spoken and for the next two years he will be at the helm of our football. So, for the sake of progress, he needs support.
It can be argued that Chiyangwa is not a football person and that he bought his way to the Zifa presidency, but his landslide victory over Trevor Carelse Juul, Leslie Gwindi and James Takavada also speaks a lot about his negotiating skills in convincing the 58-member Zifa council that he was the right guy for the job.
Although it is important to reflect on the just-ended Zifa elections, what is more important now is to look forward to the future and what it holds for Zimbabwean football.
So many challenges face Zimbabwe’s most popular sport right now. The country is facing a ban from the 2022 World Cup should Zimbabwe fail to pay off former Warriors coach Tom Saintfiet his dues by January 4 2016.
Losing out on the 2022 World Cup after missing out on the 2018 showcase would be disastrous not only for Zimbabwean football, but for the nation as a whole.
And that is not all. Zifa is sitting on more than $6 million of debt, while the Warriors are billed to travel to Rwanda for the 2016 Africa Nations Championships (Chan) in January.
The same team will be in action in the Africa Cup of Nations in away and home qualifiers against Swaziland in February, while the Mighty Warriors are supposed to go into camp in preparation for their 2016 Olympic Games journey.
All these assignments need money and Zifa at the moment does not have any to talk of. Without money, said former Athletics Zimbabwe president Pat Judson, “You will be hitting your talents against the brick wall”.
It would be folly to expect Chiyangwa to dig into his own pocket as happened with his predecessor Cuthbert Dube, as such actions have far-reaching repercussions in future.
In that respect, it is important that the government, through the Sport ministry, comes in to pay off the Saintfiet debt in the same way they did — albeit late — in paying off Valinhos’s salary arrears.
The Mighty Warriors are a brand that we should not overlook and the Warriors too look poised to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals as they are tied on points with leaders Swaziland.
In other countries, national teams are the responsibility of the government and on that premise; the Mighty Warriors and the Warriors need the ministry’s financial support to make their dreams come true.
The current harsh economic climate has not made things any easier for the corporate world, but those that can, should also extend their hand to the promising national teams.
On the field of play, Chiyangwa promised high-profile friendly matches for our teams if elected into office. Now that he is there, he should fulfil promises made and the public can also assist by paying their way to watch those friendly matches.
We also need to see our junior national teams, the Under-17 and Under-20s, return to international football after a five-year absence from Pan-African competitions.
It does not matter who is in charge of Zimbabwean football right now, what is important is for everyone to ensure that the Mighty Warriors and the Warriors succeed in their respective journeys.
Let us support the new Zifa team, and see how far they can go.
Where is Moses Chunga?
Where is Moses Chunga? Some might ask.
The 1986 Castle Soccer Star of the Year has taken a new dimension in his coaching career and is busy setting up academies in schools.
Only last week, the nomadic coach was at Tynwald Primary School to identify talent where a young Nigel Karambo emerged as the star of the show.
The 15-year-old Karambo exhibited rare dribbling skills and powerful shots which left Chunga himself a proud man.
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe no longer has an active Under-17 national team.
Chunga has a proud history in working with young players. He is now busy identifying talented young players and is striving to nurture their talents by exposing them to high-level coaching.
Chunga’s dream is to lay the foundation for future national teams by creating a conveyor belt of talent for future Under-17, 20, and 23 national teams.
Perhaps Chunga’s initiative will, in future, move us away from recycling old players, as is the case with our Premier Soccer League clubs right now.
Due to the shortage of new talent, 40-year-olds are still being seen running in our stadiums!
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