|Football Indaba set for Harare|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2012 00:00|
EDUCATION, Sport Arts and Culture Minister, David Coltart’s long cherished football stakeholders meeting has now been set for the capital on September 26, more than a year after he mooted the indaba aimed at finding lasing solutions to the perennial problems dogging the country’s biggest sport.
Coltart first revealed that he was keen on convening the indaba following his meeting with Fifa president Sepp Blatter in July last year when the world soccer governing body’s boss visited the country on a whirlwind tour.
But, for one reason or another, the meeting kept being postponed while Zifa’s financial woes deepened with only a few corporate entities such as Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources Limited being some of the cash-strapped association’s fair weather friends and often coming to their rescue.
The indaba has now been penciled in for Pandhari Lodge on September 26, raising a lot of hopes within the Zifa corridors that it could provide the opportunities for them to turn the corner and strike a better understanding with the State and the private sector.
Coltart insisted that Zimbabwe had the potential to be a regular feature at the African Cup of Nations finals and wondered why the Warriors, with only two appearances, continue to struggle to qualify for the continental soccer showpiece.
“I think we have underperformed given the talent that we have and we should not be battling to qualify for the African Cup of Nations or even the World Cup.
“We should also de-politicise football so that we leave people who are better placed to run the game and have the passion for it to run the sport,’’ Coltart said then.
The Minister also acknowledged that government had let Zifa down by not availing adequate resources to cater for the national teams with the association having had to rely on the benevolence of their president Cuthbert Dube.
Dube has since assuming office in March 2010, been using personal financial resources from his private business entities to fund the soccer mother body but by his own admission, the Harare business executive has often made it clear that such a scenario is untenable and warned that Zifa could collapse unless the government led the way in assisting them.
The focus of the indaba is to look at financing football, seeing what we can do as a government and the private sector to ensure football is on a viable and sound footing,’’ Coltart said.
Coltart has also constantly urged Zifa to wind up the long-dragging Asiagate match-fixing scam, which has taken much of the association’s attention and also left the Warriors with a thin squad after the suspension of more than 90 players who were fingered in the scandal.
There have been indications, however, that the Independent Ethics committee tasked with finalising the Asiagate chapter, has virtually completed its job and could be handing in their report just days before the game’s stakeholders convene.
There is also growing concern that the committee led by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Ahmed Ebrahim has taken far too long to conclude its probe and should certainly wind up now amid indications that they have managed to interview virtually all the individuals they felt were key to their investigations.
It is the contention of the football family that Ebrahim ought to make public his report before the Warriors head off to Luanda, Angola for their final onslaught on a place at next year’s Nations Cup finals in South Africa.
The Warriors have a 3-1 advantage going into the final qualifier, second leg encounter in Luanda on the weekend of October 12-14.
Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, acknowledged yesterday that although they were still to receive Ebrahim’s report, the Asiagate matter was also likely to be among the topics that would come for discussion at the football indaba.
Mashingaidze, however, remained confident that the indaba would help Zifa get an insight from the corporates on why they have been shunning the game and at the same time accord everyone who will attend a chance to appreciate the challenges that the association continue to face.
“That indaba is supposed to be the watershed in terms of unlocking the value of football and it should give an insight on why some companies are shunning football.
“As Zifa we are hoping that the meeting will help redefine the game’s synergies with all stakeholders.
“It is a platform for re-engagement and we are obviously expecting to update the stakeholders on Asiagate because it is a question that many have also been asking,’’ Mashingaidze said.
It is against this background that Zifa will now head to the September 26 indaba with a degree of optimism that the resolutions that will come from the meeting will give a fresh impetus to local football.