Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
IMAGINE, a few years from now, a Zimbabwean player making waves in the Spanish La Liga?
This is exactly the dream that ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa and La Liga Africa office director Antonio Barradas have following a discussion yesterday that sought to promote football development in the country.
Barradas, who is based in South Africa, yesterday said his superiors at La Liga have mandated him to explore possibilities for football exchange programmes between Zimbabwe and Spain, engineer grassroots development, foster training of trainers, raise development projects and to support with football equipment.
The La Liga official cemented his commitment yesterday when he donated 1 000 soccer balls to be used by ZIFA in the grassroots programmes that are earmarked to start across the country under the Government’s initiative of community sports clubs.
Barradas also revealed the possibility of La Liga Stars coming to Zimbabwe in the future to inspire the young generation of players while plans are afoot to get top Spanish football club Malaga visit Zimbabwe in July when they come for their pre-season tour in South Africa.
“Through La Liga we want to work with the federation of Zimbabwe football and we think it’s the right place, it’s leading at the moment. Our vision as La Liga is not to get to not only in Zimbabwe but to other countries as well and we want to bring what we know best in Spain – which is football.
“We have something which is proven and it’s successful over the world. So we can come in and help with the new technologies in football; bring in the trainers to train the trainers at school level. We are not going to come and compete with the clubs. La Liga is not here to make money, we are here to help by going to the grassroots and to the women’s league as well to help them with football development.
“Africa are football lovers. About 80 percent of the population love football. As the Spanish league we want to be near our fans as well. If we can bring on our experience it’s going to be great.
“We are bringing seven people from La Liga as from next month to go to different countries and work with those countries to develop football because I can’t be in many countries at the same time.
“In the future we would love to have some African players to play in Spain that is number one and then obviously bring some teams from Spain. Of course, Real Madrid and Barcelona will be almost impossible for now but the other medium clubs will be a possibility for some games here.
“We are bringing Malaga down to Cape Town but for here I can’t commit myself at the moment but definitely I will do my best. It was discussed in the afternoon and I will work on it,” said Barradas.
According to Barrads, the main aim of the La Liga African project is to unearth future Cristiano Ronaldos and Lionel Messis.
Chiyangwa was excited by Barradas’ visit and La Liga commitment to the development co-operation. Chiyangwa said he will vigorously pursue the possibility of Malaga visiting Zimbabwe in July.
“As you are aware he has already given us 1 000 balls which we are going to collect I think next week and then we start more and more co-operations as we discussed.
“The idea of getting Malaga coming here in July is on the top of my priority, that they fly in through Cape Town, Durban and Harare and Victoria Falls. It’s a beautiful place, Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. They will love it,” said Chiyangwa.