TROUBLED Zifa, through its boss Cuthbert Dube has once again turned to the Government for financial support with the association tabling a US$3,2 million budget which they believe will adequately cater for the national teams’ international assignments this year.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube said they were making a passionate appeal to the Government to bail them out and become the main funder of Zimbabwe’s bid for places at the Olympic Games, the All-Africa Games.
With no major corporate entities coming on board to partner the soccer mother body, Dube -who for the better part of his tenure as president funded the Zifa activities – said he had directed that the association would have to live within their means this year and also ordered the secretariat to implement tougher austerity measures.
Just this week Zifa lost property that was auctioned by the Deputy Sherriff in order to pay off former communications manager Nicky Dhlamini-Moyo, who had secured a writ to attach equipment at the Zifa Village and the association’s head office.
Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa also issued a chilling warning to Zifa to get their act together this year or face drastic action from the government.
The minister also acknowledged that Government had not done enough to invest in sport and lamented the small allocation that his Ministry received from Treasury, which he felt hamstrung, the operations of the national associations.
“It should be worth noting though that we were working on a shoestring budget because only US$100 000 was earmarked for associations in the ministry and it was too small a cake to share across the associations.
“On the shortcomings I would say our biggest disappointment has been Zifa . . . we did not do well particularly our national soccer team that failed to make any mark at all this year,’’ said Langa.
Although Langa indicated that his ministry was facing budgetary constraints, Zifa believe only the State can help them at the moment while they undertake other revenue raising initiatives such the Dollar for Football scheme and the revival of the Football Trust.
Dube said his board was keen to see the national Under-23 side qualifying for the All-Africa Games and the African Under-23 Championships, which will provide the platform for teams from the continent to battle for places at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Mighty Warriors will also compete for places at the All-Africa Games with their first assignment coming at home against Ghana on the weekend of February 20-22. On that same weekend the Young Warriors will be in Mbabane for a date against Swaziland on a similar mission.
Zifa are under pressure to ensure they atone for the huge disappointment the nation suffered when the Warriors were bundled out of the African Cup of Nations following their 3-2 preliminary round defeat by Tanzania.
As the Nations Cup bursts into life in Equatorial Guinea on January 17, Zimbabweans will once again be reminded about the Warriors’ absence through the failure of Ian Gorowa’s men and the fact that the senior team can now only wait for the qualifiers of the 2017 tournament.
Zifa who reacted by dissolving the senior team after Gorowa’s resignation, are now hoping that Callisto Pasuwa’s Young Warriors who begin their campaign next month can somewhat atone for the disappointment of the Warriors ignominious exit from the Nations Cup race.
It is against this background that Zifa are pleading with the Government to help make the Young Warriors a rare success story for the national teams in recent years.
“We submitted our budget to Government through the Sports Commission last year and we indicated that a budget of US$3,2 million will enable us to cater the men and women’s teams for the qualification phase of their competitions.
“The technical staff of these teams are putting their camping programmes in place and there is a possibility of taking them to mining towns outside of Harare for effective team building,’’ said Dube.
The Zifa president also said the austerity measures they have adopted will see national teams camping at the Zifa Village if they are not staying at sponsored lodges. Pasuwa’s Young Warriors will also face Swaziland in the first round of the Under-23 Championships qualifiers but tougher assignments await them in the next rounds should they negotiate their way past the Swazis in both competitions with such opponents like South Africa and Senegal waiting in ambush.
Dube stung by the mounting litigation that Zifa faced in 2014 during which the Messenger of Court became a regular visitor at the Zifa House also said they were assembling a stronger legal team to handle their cases.
“We had a nasty experience in 2014 and a formidable leas team to assist Zifa in terms of engagement of creditors and debt servicing is being put in place and Fifa are amenable to this arrangement,’’ Dube said. Fifa sent a delegation to the country in November to assess ways in which Zifa can overcome their crippling debt which was pegged at US$6 million at the end of 2014 but which Dube said had significantly been reduced after some individuals and companies agreed to write off up to 50 percent of what they were owed.
Dube, clearly not amused with some administrative shortcomings at the secretariat, revealed that there would also be a staff rationalisation process at the association.
“This programme will see a human resources audit being carried out and relevant measures being taken where there have been complaints about the need for a skills audit to check whether indeed we are over staffed or we do not have the right people in the right places.’’
The Zifa boss also felt his association would have to move mountains this year to repair their battered image and restore confidence from all the game’s stakeholders.