Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa says the country should transform itself into a football powerhouse by 2030 and has challenged the nation to rally behind the Warriors in their 2019 AFCON finals adventure in Egypt.
The Warriors will open the 2019 Nations Cup finals with a high-profile showdown against the Pharaohs at the Cairo International Stadium on June 21.
Last night, the President was the guest of honour at a function held in the capital by the 2019 AFCON Fundraising Committee, where he unveiled a US$200 000, and a further $300 000, to towards the cause.
A number of other organisations chipped in after the function attracted scores of the most influential people in business and industry as the nation once again demonstrated that, when it unites for a cause, it usually get things right.
The President, who also praised the national netball team for qualifying for the World Cup set for England next month, set the tone for the evening with a keynote address in which he emphasised the importance of the Warriors, given their huge ambassadorial role.
He also spoke about the need for sport to flex its muscles and contribute positively to the development of the country while urging its leaders to be accountable for them to win the trust of sponsors.
‘’Firstly, I congratulate the Warriors for the journey well-travelled, from the time of the AFCON qualifiers to the final tournament, this was by no means a small feat, well done Warriors but the battle is not yet over,’’ President Mnangagwa said.
‘’We support the Warriors because they are ours, the Warriors are Zimbabweans and we are Zimbabweans so there is no reason for us to look for reasons to support them, we are the Warriors and they are also the Warriors, we are Zimbabweans and they are also Zimbabweans
‘’Our national teams are our sporting ambassadors, and symbols of our national identity which help foster a sense of national pride, among us, the citizens.
‘’As we raise money for our 2019 AFCON battle, let our contributions be an investment beyond the present, towards a long and rewarding journey that we must both intend to grow and modernise our sporting sector.
‘’As the Warriors venture into the desert of Egypt and represent our country before the eyes of the world, and our people in the Diaspora, I exhort the nation at large to rally behind them by generously donating to their welfare.
‘’The donation can be in kind but, most favourably it should be RTGS or US (dollars), if you donate in Euro, much better still, I say so because they are carrying the Zimbabwe national brand, our national flag, therefore, they need our support and motivation as they prepare and play in the tournament.
‘’They should not worry about their accommodation, their meals, allowances, bonuses and associated provisions, I was asking the (ZIFA) president Cde (Felton) Kamambo, the number of the team which require allowances, he has told me that 33 of them would require these allowances we are talking about.
‘’And, we are so many here and if five people come together to support one, I am sure we will meet the allowances. Let us lend a helping hand and give generously.’’
President Mnangagwa said it was important for the nation to remain focused on the bigger picture of becoming a football powerhouse by 2030 and reminded everyone that, in this game, a team could win, lose or even draw and there was no need for hooliganism.
‘’We need our fans, our nation, to accept defeat, when teams are playing, one may win, one may lose, occasionally there is a draw, our qualification, therefore, to the 2019 AFCON tournament must be seen in the context of ensuring that our country progressively moves towards becoming a football powerhouse by 2030,’’ President Mnangagwa said.
‘’I further challenge the Sport and Recreation Commission, and the football fraternity, to put in place concrete strategies that will ensure the realisation of this vision.
‘’In line with the Transitional Stability Programme, my government remains committed to avail more resources to all sporting disciplines, we recognise that the entire sports sector has immense potential to contribute to our attainment of Vision 2030.
‘’However, there is need to inculcate ethical and sound business practices if our sports sector is to grow and be a source of employment, and empowerment, for many of our young people.
‘’The integrity of the leaders of this sector is necessary, if the public have confidence in the integrity of the leaders in this sector, they will contribute generously.
‘’I challenge stakeholders in the sporting fraternity to embrace good governance in the administration of sport. May I reiterate once again that corruption of any kind in any sport is not acceptable, please resist the temptation of corruption.
‘’Let us build a modern, transparent sports sector.’’ The President commended the fundraising committee for the work they were doing while also challenging the media to report positively as the Warriors represent the nation in Egypt.
He reminded the Warriors that their application in Egypt, more than luck, will shape their destiny at the tournament. ‘’I would like to commend the fundraising committee, for bringing together all the stakeholders, for this worthy cause. Football, the world over, indeed, occupies a special place in many people’s hearts but to us, politicians, we wish to appear at football matches so that on voting day you will remember us,’’ the President said.
‘’It also unites nations and helps about to bring social cohesion and harmony within countries. In our Second Republic, sport in general, and football in particular, as a mass sport, must be a vital instrument for enhancing peace, empowerment and national cohesion.
‘’Meanwhile, I exhort media practitioners, to cover the Warriors AFCON participation in positive light and with national interest in mind.
‘’To the Warriors, I say, you are our true ambassadors of our great nation and ambassadors of all our people, I wish you the best of luck, in this special AFCON adventure.
‘’Fight gallantly, fight like the true Warriors that you are, being fearless, being brave, being courageous, tireless and committed, Good luck, Go, Go Warriors, Go Warriors, God bless you all, God bless Zimbabwe.’’