High-profile women’s football initiative gets Govt backing
Veronica Gwaze-Sports Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT has thrown weight behind the Northern Region Women Football’s School of Excellency after the project entered into a new partnership with the multinational food products company National Foods.
The high-profile partnership becomes the country’s first project of its kind, aiming to expand the knowledge and expertise of women football players on all tiers of the game across the country on and off the field.
Just rebranded from Northern Region Women Soccer League School of Excellence to National Foods School of Excellence, the project has also attracted 80 athletes from across the country for a training camp which began yesterday and runs until December 22.
Speaking at the launch of the school and the training camp at National Sports Stadium, yesterday Minister of Skills Audit and Development Professor Paul Mavima said the programme will immensely benefit Zimbabwean Women football.
Professor Mavima is also a patron of the initiative together with Minister of Industry and Commerce Sithembiso Nyoni.
Zimbabwe Football Association Normalisation Committee bosses Lincoln Mutasa and Rosemary Mugadza were also in attendance together with Northern Region Women Soccer League executive members and some of the athletes who are the initiative beneficiaries.
“I am honoured to be one of the patrons of this project, and to be here today officially opening the National Foods School of Excellence training camp for female footballers from all the regions of Zimbabwe.
“Our aim is to utilise the football league, tournaments and periodic training camps to groom the next generation of the Mighty Warriors by ensuring that the Under 15, 17 and 20 teams emerging from this will become the feeder system to the senior national team,” he said. The SOE technical team is led by renowned football legend and coach Kalisto Pasuwa.
Professor Mavima said the school has already devised a comprehensive training program for the girls.
This initiative, he notes, will equip the young players with new football skills, empower them with life skills and also inspire them with new business ideas.
“This initiative is not merely about football but it symbolises our commitment to excellence across spheres; as a nation, we understand that excellency is not an option but a necessity for progress, development and the transformation of Zimbabwe,” he added.
“We are desperately in need of transformation and development to ensure that Zimbabwe has a reasonable standard of living, which is part of a national agenda that we should fulfil.”
The National Foods SOE, he said, is a testament to the nation’s collective aspiration to produce excellency in every profession and also have skills that contribute to the growth of the nation.
“Our commitment to excellence goes together with the imperative for a skills revolution across nations.
“The global landscape is evolving rapidly and to remain competitive, we must prioritise continuous skills development across sectors because a skilled workforce is the backbone of any nation’s productivity.
“It is therefore our responsibility to ensure that our people are equipped with the knowledge and expertise demanded by the contemporary world,” said Professor Mavima.
This program comes at the backdrop of the Mighty Warriors having done well at the recent COSAFA tournament in South Africa where they finished off the contest in position four.
Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Emily Jesaya weighed in that the initiative will also prepare athletes for the upcoming African Union Sports Council, Region V games and the CAF youth football tournament.
The CAF tourney is scheduled for December 14-16 at Gateway High School in Harare.
This development, she said, goes in line with President Mnangagwa’s mantra “Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo.”
“It is our responsibility to go into even the marginalised communities to identify talent, groom and convert them into international stars,” said Jesaya.
“Our ministry applauds the patrons of this program for their drive in instigating the implementation of the initiative that focuses on the elevation of women through football.
“It is paramount to note that the emancipation of women and girls is a process rather than an event; the continued establishment of a formalised competition structure for women football will assist in the eradication of the societal inequalities, injustices, prejudices, violation and ignorance of the role that women play in the development of a community.
“As we celebrate the launch of the National Foods SOE, we extend our appreciation to the Government and all stakeholders for religiously stepping in to support the empowerment of women particularly in sport.”
National Foods Limited Group chief executive officer Mike Lashbrook was elated to be part of the noble initiative.
The project, he said, became a solid foundation for the future Zimbabwe Women’s football national teams.
“We are grateful to be identified with such an initiative, we also thank the executive committee of the women’s football for recognising the power of sport and availing such opportunities to these girls,” he emphasised.
“This will see them (girls) develop not only as football players but also transform their lives hence we should not underestimate the work that they are doing here because it goes beyond sport.
“We will see to it that the girls are comfortable and happy in camp so that they capitalise on this platform which will periodically evaluate the players in their performance for future national duty.”