The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Dube Wants Focus Shift

ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube wants the association to be more active in football development programmes in 2013, revive the Warriors' brand and close the chapter on the Asiagate match-fixing scandal that dominated proceedings last year.

The full Zifa board will convene in Harare today for the first time this year for an indaba which Dube believes is a "watershed meeting that will see Zimbabwean football moving forward or remain stagnant".

With the meeting coming on the eve of the start of the African Cup of Nations in South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday night, the Warriors' absence will present the board with a painful reminder of how dark 2012 was for Zimbabwe's football.

Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, said yesterday that Dube was keen on ensuring that football grew this year and would not want the game to continue being pegged back by Asiagate matters.

Both Mashingaidze and his president Dube are, however, optimistic that this year will see a raft of changes in the way the soccer mother body conducts its business with more attention and resources being channeled towards development and reviving the Warriors and the national youth teams.

Mashingaidze said Zifa were determined to emerge from the problems related to the Asiagate scam which rocked the domestic game and consumed most of their time and energy last year.

Dube, Mashingaidze said, would set the tone for improved administration of the game, luring more corporate partners and general growth of the game when he presides over today's meeting.

"The game should now grow out of the Asiagate ashes and open new frontiers for its sustainable growth.

"The president has made it clear that the hygienic issues to do with ending the match-fixing and corruption problems were dealt with but the tone for this year is taking the game forward in terms of youth football, women, Area zones, provincial football and also tapping into various development initiatives.

"General administration of the game last year had ground to a halt without the tenets of corporate governance while the constitution had its flaws in terms of what constitutes the board and the emergency committee because the board cannot be meeting every month," Mashingaidze said.

Today's indaba will also discuss Zifa's proposed 2013 budget , the strategies for revenue generation, the year's activities and the envisioned Football Trust which the association believes could be a landmark development if it comes to fruition.

Mashingaidze also noted the need to strengthen the Zifa secretariat and improve the capacities of the staff manning their offices in Harare and across the country.

"Staff should be able to handle football issues be it in terms of statutes, marketing or licensing at the secretariat, provinces and regions because Zifa is not the chief executive or the president only . . . it is the sum total of the 10 provinces.

"We should also comply with Caf and Fifa statutes in terms of all our statutory bodies. We need to ascertain how best our leagues especially in the lower structures are run and whether it is unsustainable and whether it grows our football with the support of the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture," Mashingaidze said.

In the year that Zifa will turn 50, Mashingaidze said it was critical that the association's finances which have been the national game's Achilles Heel and often left the mother body a laughing stock, are improved.

Dube has had to dig deeper into his pockets to fund a number of key Zifa activities such as paying salaries for staff and bailing out the national teams on their assignments.

But the Harare business executive also made it clear that the national game could not continue to rely on one man's personal resources and when the board members discuss the strategies for revenue generation, it would be interesting to see some of the initiatives that Zifa will come up with.

Zifa are battling against a crippling US$4 million debt that has even raised alarm within the Fifa corridors with the world soccer governing body warning Dube's leadership to implement more stringent austerity measures. Finances have always haunted our institution and 2013 should see us improve on how we unlock revenue inflows for the association. If you look at the ticket levies, Zifa are getting one percent yet SRC get six percent, the Ministry of Public Works get 15 percent, local authorities 20 percent so in that case we are a more like a surrogate mother to football.

"A player transfer commission to ensure that transfers are not held surreptitiously and thanks to the new transfer matching system we are going to have our fingers on the tab".

Just like Premiership giants Dynamos, who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, Zifa are also planning a host of activities including an award scheme to honour, referees, players, coaches, administrators, corporate partners and other individuals, who will be deemed to have contributed immensely to the well being of the national game in the last half a century.

"We intend to roll out a framework that will excite the family of football with memorabilia as we are going to have a Zimbabwe Football at 50 awards function that will be preceded by colourful events that celebrate our milestones and also reflect on our shortcomings during the same period.

"The 50th anniversary activities will also remind those who would want to adulterate the game that it has travelled a 50-year journey and is still going strong and we will be honouring such clubs like St Paul's Musami, Gweru United, Hwange, Zimbabwe Saints, CAPS United, Dynamos and Highlanders The celebration will start at the end of this month and will culminate in a glitzy dinner in July with the unveiling of the Hall of Fame and the official opening of the Zifa Village and conference centre as a milestone for our football," Mashingaidze said

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