Yesterday was the Group G World Cup Qualifiers battle for the two Ws that is the Walias (Ethiopia) and the Warriors (Zimbabwe). The match was played at Bahir Dar International Stadium in the city of Bahir Dar. In terms of football rankings, the Warriors are 24 in Africa and 108 in the world while the Walias are 40 in Africa and 137 in the world. The warriors lost 0-1 to the Walias through a 90+4 minutes penalty by Aschalew Tamene Seyoum. The results were received with mixed feelings among the soccer loving Zimbabweans; some calling for the logout of Zdravko Logarusic while others calling for the resignation of the entire Zifa board. Zimbabwe is now at the bottom of group G table that also comprises South Africa and Ghana. Records of the Warrior’s performance in the past 12 months are not pleasing and out of 11 matches, the statistics are as follows: 3 draws, 1 win and 7 loses. This article is meant provoke a discussion on the wayforward to redeem our beloved game. I think as Zimbabweans we need to revisit our ways of doing sporting bussiness. For us to get the deisred results we should remember that sporting is nolonger just a form of entertainment as it used to be during the days of the George Shayas and David Mandigoras, it is now brisky business. Let us a have holisitc approach to the whole issue in order to come up with a sustainable solution to this perennial issue. Some years back a debate was made in Germany paliarment pertaining improving the Germany soccer. Stadia were now empty, German clubs were nolonger performing well in European tournaments and this also applied to Germany National Soccer team. A comprehensive plan and a huge investment was put in place to redeem the beloved sports. Within few years Bayern Munich lifted the UEFA, Germany national team also lifted the World Cup that was played in Brazil. Do you still remember the 7-1 crashing of the Brazil? Here are my proposals for redeeming our sport.
- Restoration of Open Spaces for informal playing in our residential Areas
The issue of closing all open play centres for our children has killed the developemnt of talent. Today all the spaces are being converted to residential stands and our children have no where to play except at schools. I grew up in Mbizvo Kwekwe and we used to spend many hours playing money game in those opening spaces. I remember the amazing talent that was developed in those places. These are the places that produced some of the great players in Kwekwe like Kennedy Nagoli, Andrew Banda and Watson Siziba. Politics has contributes a lot the killing of sport in Zimbabwe. The role of the politicians is to provide infrastructure, space, resources and legislation for the promoting of talent. Our politicians are not hesitant to invest in other insignificant things but reluctant to invest in things that promotes the development of talent, innovation and creativity. Those open space for informal playing were not a waste of land but they contributed significantly to creativity, innovation and development of talent.
2. Sports Education
Schools are a seed bed for the early development of talent. What is responsible for coaching certain sporting discipline at our schools? First, do we the right people with passion for the sport? Second, are they empowered to carry the task? There is abundance of talent in our schools that is being untapped. We need to catch them young. I still remember some years back my brother Tapiwa Gusha was doing temporary teaching at Nyakwati primary school in Silobela. The school was a walk over in football for many schools at tournaments. Though not a trained coach, he passion and talent in football. He took over the coaching of the team and guess what? It was the team to watch at that tournament. they came out victorious to the amazement of other schools. At Chiedza school in Mbizvo Mr Magwali was a brilliant coach and he was the one who produced those great players in Kwekwe.
3. Lack of Talent
Due some of the reasons mentioned above, our talent for soccer is going down. I still remember that high level talent that was in our schools some years back in the late 80s and early 90s. Matches between Mbizvo High and Manunure would draw huge crowds and officiating was done certified referees. The talent was so amazing. As I watch our premier league games these days am dissapointed by the lack of talent in our teams. Theya are far below great school players in our days like, Maxwell Marhino Dube (Ascot Seconday School), Tawanda Jab Javangwe and Matanzima Nkomo (St Patrick’s High School-Chiundura) and Milton of Masvori Secondary School. Some of the talent was never tapped at all. let us discuss guys, what has happened to the development of talent? Clubs due to financial constraints also abandoned the issue of junior teams. Our under 23 which used to be a resevoir of our national team is now dead.
4. Zifa Administrators
Our supreme soccer body needs a new approach to sport bussiness. The nature their office along Livestone Avenue says a lot. Is that the quality of office expected of such a huge soccer governing board. Then the nature of the people who elect in the body is also questionable. I was surprised to read that at a certain time they was a zifa chairman who never attended a single national team match? How is that possible? The last afcon tournament, the whole zifa assemble travelled to Egypt for tournament while the players did not have enough incentives. The priorities and interests are wrong and this is just small picture of our current corporate ethics in Zimbabwe. We need to revisit bthe way we elect our office bearers.
Are our coaches resourced to carry the assignment? Do we invest in friendly matches to allow coaches to observe players? Recently Qatar had a friendly match with Portugal and what are we doing as Zifa? Do we also invest in right coaches? Surpisingly we are prepared to pay more money to foreign coaches who do not produce results and neglect our local coaches who produce better results. We should revist our concept of hiring coaches. Zifa needs a complete overhaul . Then lastly media also contribute to the whole saga. They have tendency of marketing certain players for the tournament who were inactive duirng the qualifiers and the end result is neglecting those who sweat for the team to qualify. This is demotivating for other players.