Corporate partner to bankroll Warriors’ Nations Cup finals campaign
Sponsor to take care of football mother body’s activities from next year
Petros Kausiyo IN SUN CITY, South Africa
PHILIP CHIYANGWA — basking in the glory of his stunning triumph in the race for the COSAFA presidency — is set to unveil a new corporate sponsor for the Warriors’ Nations Cup campaign in Gabon next month and a flagship sponsor for ZIFA.
The sponsor, who will bankroll the Warriors’ 2017 Nations Cup campaign and will also be the corporate partner for the association, will be unveiled this week in yet another massive vote of confidence in Chiyangwa and his leadership.
The Warriors haven’t had a corporate sponsor for years, with coach Callisto Pasuwa’s salary and welfare being taken care of by businessman Wicknell Chivayo.
But all that is set to change with the new deal that has been thrashed between ZIFA and their new corporate sponsor set to be unveiled this week.
“We have secured a corporate sponsor and this is a landmark development in the history of ZIFA and our football in general and things will never be the same again for us,” said Chiyangwa.
“The deal will cover our Warriors campaign in Gabon next month and the boys will be fully catered for during their campaign and we hope this will be a major boost for the boys when they fly our national flag at Afcon.
“It will also give us a major sponsor, as an association, for our activities next year and we are happy that we have moved in the right direction and our football will get a major facelift.”
Chiyangwa said his victory in the race for the COSAFA presidency will also boost downstream industries in the country like tourism.
“This is big because now it means as Zimbabwe we can even host major FIFA initiatives because we now have a very strong voice in the game,” said Chiyangwa.
“I intend to meet with the relevant ministers who can benefit from this so that we draw up a plan of action so that our country benefits from our assumption of the leadership role in COSAFA.
“This is a five-year programme, but l don’t want to stop living my dreams and I can assure you that there is more that is coming and which will shock those who don’t believe in pursuing their dreams.”
Chiyangwa believes that greater unity and commitment by all members will be key in driving the regional soccer body to greater heights.
The ZIFA president was magnanimous in victory as he reached out to the leaders of the 14-member bloc to ensure COSAFA plays an influential role in growing football in the region and subsequently on the continent.
Chiyangwa swept to the presidency of COSAFA unopposed on Saturday after his rival in the race Danny Jordan of South Africa withdrew just before voting began.
It was the second time in as many elective COSAFA congresses that South African Football Association president Jordan had pulled out of election just hours before polling had begun.
In the last COSAFA election that swept Patel to a second term in Gaborone, Botswana, Jordan surprised the electorate when he withdrew his candidature.
Jordan’s withdrawal, however, did little to spoil a day of rejoicing for Chiyangwa and Zimbabwean football as Chiyangwa became the first local administrator to assume leadership of an international football body.
Yet many people had cast a huge doubt on Chiyangwa’s chances when he announced that he was running for the COSAFA presidency which initially had three candidates, with Patel having indicated he was gunning for a third term.
Those who doubted Chiyangwa’s chances based their arguments on the basis that the flamboyant Harare businessman is still a green horn in international football politics, having only just swept to the helm of ZIFA on December 5 last year.
But Chiyangwa has never been one to shy away from standing for what he strongly believes in and quickly points out to the way “David slew Goliath’’ whenever someone suggests he “might be too small for a certain task’’.
Such was his confidence too that Chiyangwa rallied his ZIFA board and subsequently the association’s assembly to support him as he defied his football administration inexperience to challenge for the COSAFA leadership.
All but one member of his board —Felton Kamambo — travelled to Sun City to lend support to their leader and they were not disappointed either.
Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association leader Eddie “Mboma’’ Nyatanga also made his way to South Africa to offer his support to the ZIFA president.
Nyatanga arrived in South Africa last Friday to drum up support for Chiyangwa.
Crucially for Chiyangwa, he managed to convince presidents of the southern region’s football associations that he was the man to give COSAFA fresh impetus and coincidentally his election at Sun City in South Africa’s North West Province comes at a time when Zimbabwe will be the only country from the zone to have qualified for the African Cup of Nations.
Zimbabwe’s Warriors will be the only COSAFA country among the 16 finalists at the 2017 Nations Cup in Gabon which will run from January 14 to February 5.
Interestingly, Chiyangwa’s election comes just months after he had accepted an offer from the outgoing Patel for Zimbabwe to host the COSAFA Women’s championships.
But it was his magnanimity in his hour of triumph that underlined Chiyangwa’s rapid rise into an “international football statesman’’.
Chiyangwa reckons that the unity of all members and even those who might have wished for Jordan to take over would be vital in driving COSAFA to the next level.
It is that unity which Chiyangwa wants his five-year term to be underpinned on.
“I am extremely humbled and thankful for the confidence which the COSAFA members have reposed in me through this election.
“I want to thank the outgoing leadership particularly president Suketu Patel for steering the ship to this level.
“I call upon all the members to join me and the new executive committee so that together we make the region a formidable bloc.
“We must remember that leadership renewal is meant to further grow and develop the game in all its facets and not in a divisive process.
“It is my conviction that COSAFA being the biggest zone in our continent should just not be an issue of more numbers at an elective congress of CAF but that such huge numbers must manifest into more development on the field of play and capacity building of the administrators.
“COSAFA should have more say in the governance of the game and indeed have a voice that could be heard both on the continent and at FIFA,’’ Chiyangwa said.
He said he could not immediately outline the steps that he would want to take in steering COSAFA as he would also need to meet with the council’s secretariat headed by veteran administrator Sue Destombes at the regional body’s headquarters in South Africa.
He, however, briefly chaired an impromptu meeting with his committee that includes his deputy Frans Mbidi of Namibia, Walter Manda, General Neto, Sameer Sobha, Andrew Kamanga and Junior Simango.
Patel indicated that he was happy to leave office after having managed to convince the Southern African associations to give more attention to junior football, arguing that when he came into office, “COSAFA was only about the Castle Cup for senior men’’.
“When I took over the presidency 10 years ago, development was the objective and we have achieved that.
“It is important to know when one has done his job and leave with dignity.
“Back then we had one tournament, our senior challenge the Castle Cup, but this year we have hosted five events across the age-groups in men’s and women’s football.
“It has always been our objective that young players’ first exposure to international football is in our region. I hope that legacy will continue.
“We have great sponsors in place and these relationships now need to be nurtured. We have built a credible institution that is accountable to its members. COSAFA is perceived to be the premier region in the CAF family,” Patel said.
There is a strong feeling all the COSAFA members that they have never really turned their huge numbers into influential roles in the Confederation African Football and more worryingly for the region their teams have not turned their potential into dominance as Southern Africa continues to live in the shadows of their counterparts from the North and Western parts of the continent.
With 14 members COSAFA is African football’s biggest zone.