ZIFA yesterday joined the nation in mourning the death of Vice President John Nkomo and described it as a huge blow to their aspirations of turning around the fortunes of the national game. Vice President Nkomo, who died in Harare on Thursday morning, was also the national football association's patron.
He was 79.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube, flanked by his deputy Ndumiso Gumede and chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, said Vice President Nkomo played a key role in assisting the association fulfill some of their obligations.
Vice President Nkomo, Dube also said, had also extended his assistance to local clubs that participated in the Confederation of African Football's inter club competitions -- the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
"We are shocked and saddened by Vice President Nkomo's death. He assisted us in many ways, including retrieving some assets from the former chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, and these included three buses and a generator. He was on the verge of getting us back the vehicles now.
"The late Vice President worked tirelessly for the Warriors Trust. He himself was a keen player of the game during his youth to such an extent that President Mugabe knew about it hence his secondment by the President to assist football following a Zanu PF conference in Esigodini. He also helped us secure, through the Sports Commission, a US$103 000 loan for clubs taking part in the Caf inter club competitions.
"We, as football, mourn with his family for their loss but we feel it is a national loss," Dube said.
The Zifa boss also said Vice President Nkomo was also keen to help the association revamp their operations in line with the resolutions passed at the Football indaba held in Harare last year.
"He had pledged to assist us in setting up the Football Trust that we want to put in place and in identifying some of the eminent people who will make up that Trust.
"His family and with particular reference to his son Jabulani, who was my deputy in the 2010 African Cup of Nations bid committee, was always assisting football. Jabulani was also a member of the Mzansi '90 committee and there is a big future for him in our football. So we have lost a fatherly figure and a man of great passion for the game," Dube said.
Zimbabwe Women Football, for whom Vice President Nkomo was an avid supporter, said they had also learnt with shock the news of the passing on of the Zifa patron.
Women's football boss, Mavis Gumbo, said in statement that Vice President Nkomo had left a void that would be difficult to fill as he also gave guidance to her leadership.
"The chairperson of Zimbabwe Women Football, Mavis Gumbo, board, staff, the Mighty Warriors, players and supporters of women football, are struck deeply by the death of Vice President Landa John Nkomo.
"VP Nkomo was our Number One fan, and always took the time to share his knowledge and experiences of life with us. We have been cut to the heart.
"At a personal level, Vice President Nkomo was one of the first people to support me when I made a bid to head Zimbabwe Women Football. His words of encouragement and advice still ring true today and have shaped many of the decisions I have since made.
"For women football, VP Nkomo was a true and committed father figure who would listen to us when we had something to say to him and would always be ready to offer support, advice and guidance. He was passionate about the development of football, in particular, the growth of women football, and he was ever ready to assist move this sport forward. The gap he has left will be difficult to fill," Gumbo said.
Gumbo said the women's game would try to honour Vice President Nkomo by achieving success on both the domestic and international fronts.
"The best we can do to honour his memory is to ensure that women football continues to grow and scale greater heights. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the Nkomo family, to the Government of Zimbabwe, which has lost a leading light and to the Nation, on the passing of a great hero," said Gumbo.