Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIFA partner Wicknell Chivayo’s love affair with Zimbabwe football is turning into an obsession, with the businessman, who secured brand new cars for Warriors’ coach Callisto Pasuwa and his Mighty Warriors’ counterpart Shadreck Mlauzi, announcing he is buying 250 pairs of football boots for the men’s senior national team.
Chivayo says he wants ZIFA to give every player who is called to the Warriors at least five pairs of football boots as part of the association’s appreciation to the players for answering the call for national duty.
The businessman says given that he has already empowered the national team coaches by securing vehicles for them, it was also important that the players — who are the main actors who can make a difference on the pitch — also feel they are being appreciated for flying the national flag.
Zimbabwe’s quest to qualify for the African Cup of Nations finals, for the first time since the Warriors took part at the 2006 AFCON finals in Egypt, will enter a decisive phase next month when the senior national team battles Swaziland in back-to-back matches over four days which could either destroy or boost this campaign.
Should the Warriors win both matches they would have effectively put one foot in Gabon, where the 2017 Nations Cup will be held, with two qualifying matches against Guinea (away) and Malawi (at home), set to follow in their six-match qualifying programme.
Chivayo, who listed the Warriors among the six parties that matter dearly to him, and which should always count on him for financial and material support, has turned into ZIFA’s all-weather friend after unveiling a $1 million package for the association, the first individual to go into bed with the country’s football controlling body in the past six years.
He has also paid a huge part of the $180 000 that was owed by ZIFA to Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, who only coached the Warriors for just a day before he ran into problems with the country’s immigration authorities for working without a work permit, and leading to his deportation from this country.
Saintfiet successfully petitioned FIFA, arguing that ZIFA had breached the terms of their agreement, and he won his case with the world football governing body ruling that, should the Association fail to pay the coach his dues by last month, the Warriors would be thrown out of the 2022 World Cup without even kicking a ball.
Already, the current generation of Warriors have suffered the humiliation of being barred from playing in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers after ZIFA failed to pay former national team coach, Valinhos, for services rendered during the 2010 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifiers.
Chivayo ensured that the emerging crop of Warriors would play at the 2022 World Cup by ensuring that Saintfiet was paid his dues.
He says his next assignment is to secure football boots for the players who are called for national duty.
The businessman even mocked himself, saying he first thought he would get one-size-feet-all football boots, when he went into Total Sports, a shop in Sandton, South Africa, looking for boots for the senior national team players.
“Someone please help me, I’m in Total Sports asking about shooters (football boots) for my Warriors but I’m not too sure how you describe them (the boots),” he posted on his Instagram account.
“How dumb I can be sometimes, I thought it was one-size-fits-all but I’m told I will need each player’s shoe.
“Ideally, I would rather ask ZIFA to float a small tender for the supply of 250 pairs of shooters with sizes and colours so I support other companies in ZIM.
“All I want is (that) each of my players must have, at least, an extra five good pairs.
“On Monday I will have to call and ask my coach PASUWA first (as to what) what criteria they use when buying them.
“Today, being a Saturday, he (Pasuwa) probably driving around in luxury with his children sitting on his black leather in his keyless (vehicle) NDOKUTI NATIONAL TEAM COACH and for the next two years, on the first day of every month, RAIN OR SUNSHINE , CATS, DOGS, MONKEYS, DONKEYS OR BABOONS, his available balance will be 7000 United States American dollars.
“We must always give thanks and praise up above.”
Some of the Warriors use boots that are provided by their personal sponsors. It also appears Chivayo’s decision to partner ZIFA has helped change perceptions among some people who felt the businessman was a spoilt person only concerned with flaunting his wealth on the social media platforms.
“What you did for Pasuwa, God bless you, even though I always thought you are just a pompous dud, you have managed to change my opinion of you,” tawazgumbo posted in the debate generated by Chivayo’s Instagram post.
Chivayo has already called on other Zimbabweans and companies to come on board and help transform the face of domestic football.
“I encourage other youths to emulate this noble gesture and it must be noted that this SMALL sincere donation is simply intended to support soccer throughout the country,” he said.
“My favourite sports are rugby and tennis but I took into consideration the sport watched by the majority. I’m also trying to make it crystal clear that not only am I a successful businessman but I’m also a generous and PATRIOTIC ZIMBABWEAN.
“At the end of the day you can’t make everyone happy and I have since stopped trying to explain myself when I realised people only understand from their level of perception.
“It’s ok if you don’t like me, it’s your loss not mine. No matter what you say, or wish, one thing for a fact is my goals will never be stopped by anyone and either you come to help me and we make things happen together or I will definitely make it happen by myself so EITHER WAY IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.
“Finally It’s now MY TIME to show you what the power of GOD can do in our lives.”