Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
FIFA have praised ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa and his leadership for the pace and commitment they have shown in trying to turn around the national game, paving the way for the imminent resumption of the world soccer body’s financial assistance to Zimbabwe.
The world body’s relations with ZIFA had somewhat strained due to a plethora of internal problems that were haunting the association in the last half 2015 some of which eventually resulted in councillors voting to revoke the mandate of the previous board led by Cuthbert Dube.
FIFA were particularly not amused by ZIFA’s failure to produce audited accounts which led to the suspension of the financial assistance programs that include the grant which the association received for their Goal Project.
But there has been a commendable pace, energy and commitment to improving the way business is conducted at the ZIFA headquarters and the efforts that Chiyangwa and his board which includes his deputy Omega Sibanda and board members — Piraishe Mabhena, Edzai Kasinauyo, Philemon Machana and Felton Kamambo.
In just over two months in office Chiyangwa has put in systems aimed at accountability, better governance systems of the game and crucially unlocking the value in the country’s biggest sport by luring partners and exploring key avenues for revenue streams such as television and broadcast rights for organised football.
Those efforts by the Harare property mogul and his management team have not gone unnoticed and FIFA development officer for Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi acknowledged as much as he addressed them during an induction workshop which the world body held for the new ZIFA board in Nyanga over the weekend.
FIFA development officer Ashford Mamelodi said the picture on the Zimbabwe football landscape was pointing to a brighter future with the veteran administrator also welcoming the enthusiasm shown by the ZIFA board to understand and implement what is required of them as they seek an efficient discharge of the mandate they were given by the association’s assembly on December 5 last year.
The former COSAFA secretary-general was also in the country in December last year as he observed the elections in which Chiyangwa swept to power after beating the challenges of Trevor Carelse-Juul, James Takavada and Leslie Gwindi.
Mamelodi also reminded the ZIFA board of the significance of football to the livelihood of many Zimbabweans.
“There is so much that football can do and there is so much that can change in this country as a result of football. Many Zimbabweans would want to feel and enjoy the game.
“FIFA has set aside $900 million for the next four years for the development of the game and it is up to member associations to access it.
“Currently ZIFA is stable with the coming in of the new board and the work they have been doing but financially the association is not stable and the debt (ZIFA debt) has to be cleared and I am glad there is a commitment by the board to clear the debt.
“People kept wondering why the ZIFA debt was allowed to balloon from $2,5 million to $6 million and I am glad that you have taken steps to tighten the screws and take control of all the revenue that accrues to football,’’ Mamelodi said.
ZIFA have since instituted a forensic audit to establish the extent to which the association is in debt after indications that it had ballooned to $6 million.
Mamelodi said it was imperative that ZIFA took austerity measures to contain their debt from continuing to spiral advising that “you cannot spend money which you do not have’’.
“If you have to enter for the AFCON (African Cup of Nations) for instance you have to budget for it and you should not stifle development . . . you cannot use FAP (Financial assistance programme) funds for the Warriors campaigns.
“The Warriors should be a brand on its own that sells and sustains itself in the same way that Bafana Bafana (South African senior national team) get $2 million from TV rights’’.
Mamelodi also advised the ZIFA board of such initiatives like the Challenger programme and the Win-Win through which ZIFA could access more FIFA funding outside of the traditional grant of $250 000 that is given to member associations across the globe annually.
The FIFA development officer also told the board that it was key that they resume receipt of the Goal Project funding which had been stopped just when the world body had approved an application of $600 00 by the previous board which was had been earmarked for the procurement of new headquarters for ZIFA.
Chiyangwa has made re-branding of ZIFA a top priority with the Harare businessman insisting that the association’s image including the need to have better offices from which to operate, was key to revitalising domestic football’s image.
Just last week, Chiyangwa was in South Africa to explore ways in which ZIFA could maximise on the Warriors brand and tap from the revenue from television rights for the senior national team.
ZIFA have over the years only relied on gate takings from the national team games, funds which have proved inadequate to cater for such expenses like flying in foreign based professionals and the match officials as well as for the travel expenses for away games.
As a result ZIFA have had to extend a begging bowl each time the national teams have commitments, albeit, in embarrassing fashion at times.
But under the new dispensation, there is greater optimism that football will operate like the bug industry it has grown to be worldwide.
And in line with the prevailing tough economic environment, the ZIFA boss and his board also want to embark on a staff rationalisation programme as part of austerity measures.
The board has however, insisted they will undertake efforts to strengthen chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze’s secretariat.
Given that Mashingaidze and his secretariat are responsible for the day to day affairs of the national game with the board advised against micro-managing football, both FIFA and ZIFA acknowledge the need to equip the chief executive and his lieutenants, who also include the technical director, with the resources that will help them to discharge their duties efficiently.