insidesport:with MICHAEL KARIATI
ZIMBABWE women’s football has fallen from grace to grass with the country’s national teams being hit — left, right and centre — in the process turning themselves into a punching bag of the international world.
Not only are they being beaten, but they are being thrashed if not massacred at will, raising questions as to what exactly has happened to what at one time was one of the elite teams in African women’s football.
One thing that is clear is that something is wrong somewhere when a team that was at the 2016 Olympic Games is hammered 5-0 by Zambia and its Under-17s humiliated 5-0 by — of all teams — little Botswana.
Few, that is if there are any, would argue that the Zimbabwe women’s game has suffered this rapid decline not because Zimbabwe does not have good players or the best of coaches, but because of administrative shortcomings.
Coaches without any link or knowledge of the players are being randomly picked by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to handle national teams, while the Zimbabwe Women Soccer League has been sidelined and reduced to spectators in their own game.
Although they might not want to publicly admit it, the Women Soccer League does not have a say on who is appointed to coach which age group or the women national team as they are not even consulted.
More importantly, is the fact that Zifa dictates how funds allocated to women from Fifa must be used and also selects who should accompany women’s teams to foreign lands, some of whom have caused irreparable damage.
What is clearly evident is that Zifa do not seem to have respect on the ability of women and believe women cannot do anything successful on their own, although the success of the Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZNA) seems to point otherwise.
It is shocking that after 40 years since Zimbabwe was admitted to international sport, women do not have a voice over their own affairs even though the whole world has changed.
Events on the ground even suggests that the president of the Zimbabwe Women Soccer League (ZWSL), Barbara Chikosi, is a toothless bulldog, who just sits on the all-powerful Zifa board just to make up the numbers and does not have a voice at all.
Chikosi is also associated with the entertainment industry as a music promoter.
What is disturbing is that Zimbabwe and Zifa in particular are resisting alignment with global changes and have not taken on board examples which Fifa and other successful football nations have set in recognising the role of women in football development.
What Zifa is forgetting is that a refreshing wind of change is blowing across the football world and at the top of the game at Fifa right now is Fatima Samoura, the Fifa secretary-general from Senegal.
Whatever the case, Zimbabwe women soccer teams have the potential of becoming strong once again on the international stage — only if the right things are done. The first of which is to give women soccer to women and get them more involved in their own affairs.
The ZWSL should be involved in all forms of women’s football activity and should be able to do that freely with nobody pulling the strings.
The Women Soccer League should be given the task of recommending coaches for national duty appointments since they are the ones who are on the ground and who know the real women soccer coaches.
National team selectors should also not lose sight of the fact that there is talent in abundance in other parts of the country that needs to be given a chance instead of focusing their attention on Bulawayo and Harare only.
Fifa funds for women’s football should not be spent at Zifa level, but should percolate down to those who run women’s football because they are the ones who know better what needs to be done.
It would be a lie to say those at 53 Livingstone Avenue know more of what is happening in women’s football, the northern and southern region, the Area Zone, or the Premier Soccer League, than those actually on the ground.
The president of the ZWSL — as a Zifa board member — should be the go-between in the relationship between the national football federation and all women football matters in Zimbabwe.
It would be good to one day see the Mighty Warriors once again back at the Olympics, but that will not be easy considering the current standing of Zimbabwe women’s football.
Zifa must give women’s soccer to women and see how far they can go when in control of their own affairs. As the national football federation, Zifa should only come in as an overseer or just to supervise what is being done.
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