Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
COSAFA boss Philip Chiyangwa says he will discuss a number of projects, including a football tournament featuring European nations for Cyclone Idai victims, when he hosts his UEFA counterpart, Aleksander Ceferin.
The Slovenian lawyer, the second most powerful man in world football who leads an organisation which is the heartbeat of the global game, is expected in Zimbabwe today for a 12-day vacation.
Ceferin, who is also the FIFA vice president, will be accompanied by his family on a tour that will see them visit some of the country’s major resort areas.
He will be hosted by his COSAFA counterpart, Chiyangwa, during his stay in this country with the family’s first port of call being Victoria Falls where they are scheduled to arrive today.
“Looking forward to meet you on Friday and thank you in advance,” Ceferin texted the COSAFA boss yesterday.
“See you soon.”
Chiyangwa then responded, with another text message in which he said, “I’m honoured to receive you and will be at your service.
“I’m already in Victoria Falls and all systems are set for your easy entry and stay.”
The UEFA boss is leading with a 20-member delegation that includes family and friends and they will stay in Zimbabwe for 12 days.
Their schedule will see them vacationing at Victoria Falls, Binga, Hwange National Park, Matobos, Great Zimbabwe and the Eastern Highlands with the tour coming to an end in Harare.
Ceferin heads the organisation running the world’s most prestigious inter-club football tournament, the UEFA Champions League, which parades the globe’s finest talents in battles for the silverware.
It is also the richest football confederation in the world.
Chiyangwa said he will use the visit by one of the world’s most powerful football leaders to explore the possibilities of strengthening ties between COSAFA and UEFA.
“There are a number of areas where our two organisations can work together for the benefit of football,” Chiyangwa told The Herald.
“We need a COSAFA Women’s Club Championships because, as you know, women’s football is now an area that requires special attention and UEFA have a wonderful model that can help us.
“They can teach us a lot in that area, the organisation, how we can get it off the ground, how we can make it attractive to the fans, how we can make it appeal to the sponsors.
“It’s a privilege just to be exchanging views with such a man in world football and there is a lot that we can learn from them.”
Chiyangwa said he was also exploring the possibility of having an Idai Charity match which will involve some European countries.
“You know our countries suffered badly when Cyclone Idai hit and the wounds of that disaster are yet to heal,” said Chiyangwa.
“As football, we can play our part and we are looking at having the Idai Charity match in which some UEFA countries will take part.
“We are looking at having matches played in the affected countries — Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa —and the proceeds going to people in those countries who are still to recover from the cyclone.
“We will also explore the possibilities of having European countries coming here to play football matches against their COSAFA counterparts.”
Two years ago, UEFA launched the UEFA Assist, the international assistance programme which responds to the needs of national associations and confederations across the globe.
The programme aims at boosting solidarity and also facilitating football development around the world with emphasis in capacity building, development of youth football and supporting infrastructure development.
“UEFA aims to work as much as possible in the development of football and I feel it’s our duty to assist other confederations and their member associations by sharing their experience, expertise and knowledge so they can reach their goals,” Ceferin said.
“We are looking forward to helping them grow football in their continents and also participating in the development of the game outside Europe.”
Already the General Secretaries of African Football Federations have benefited from the UEFA Assist Programme.
Chiyangwa said UEFA was a model organisation in doing things right in football and there were many areas where COSAFA can benefit with closer co-operation.
“Football is about having the right networks and using them effectively and you can’t live on an island, without any links to others, if you want to do well in this game,” said Chiyangwa.