ZIFA have launched an audacious bid to lure English champions Manchester City into the country as part of a host of activities to commemorate the association's 50th anniversary this year. Just like Premiership champions Dynamos, Zifa, founded on May 17, 1963 as the Rhodesia National Football League, will be turning 50 this year.
The soccer mother body is quietly lining up a number of activities including unveiling a Hall of Fame to honour some of the individuals, organisations and companies that have made a significant contribution to the national game in the last 50 years.
It has, however, emerged that Zifa are also trying to bring into the country some of the top European clubs and relive the glory days when such teams like Coventry City and Dutch outfit PSV Eindhovein toured this country.
Apart from Manchester City, Zifa have also sent invitations to two of the most successful clubs in the English game -- 19 time champions Manchester United and their biter rivals Liverpool, who have won league 18 titles.
Zifa are also trying to lure African champions Nigeria as well as Italian and Spanish giants Juventus and Real Madrid respectively with the association expecting any of the clubs to visit during their off-season break which begins at the end of May.
In the case of Real Madrid, it would be a two-pronged approach to try and entice Jose Mourinho's men to the country with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority also revealing two weeks ago that they were making a similar move.
But it is with Manchester City that Zifa have already had some meaningful contact with and now the association is optimistic that the links could open avenues for exploring ways of mutual co-operation between the parties.
Although Manchester City, for who former Zimbabwe skipper Benjani Mwaruwari played, have indicated that they cannot tour in July as proposed by Zifa, the cash-rich club hinted on rolling out a programme to help Zifa celebrate their anniversary and also identify and nurture talent that is abundant around the country.
Manchester City regional manager Daniel Paiser on Monday wrote to Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, acknowledging the invitation that the association had sent to them and also outlined the programmes that the club could chip in with as part of a technical co-operation pact with the local soccer mother body.
"Thank you very much for your letter and invitation/proposal for Manchester City FC to visit Zimbabwe this year. However, our plans for the summer have already been confirmed.
"We will be visiting South Africa in July this year and immediately after travelling to Asia. For this reason we are not able to accept your kind offer as it does not fit within our travel dates.
"We are, however, looking to explore partnerships across the whole of the African continent and I would cherish the opportunity to discuss potential partnerships between MCFC and the Zimbabwe Football Association.
"We run a number of great programmes with federations based around soccer schools, coaching programmes and regional partnerships and if these could be of interest to you, we can explore these opportunities further.
"We could create a special package for the federation bearing in mind its 50th anniversary celebration which could include MCFC presence in the local market around knowledge transfer and opportunity for the federation and one of its teams to visit our facilities in Manchester, a close door training session and possibly a match against one of our academy teams," wrote Paiser.
The Manchester City regional manager invited Mashingaidze for a meeting in South Africa next week to further explore ways of mutual co-operation.
"Please do let me know if you wish to discuss this further. I will be in Johannesburg on business from Friday this week until Thursday next week if you wish to meet up locally to discuss further. Alternatively, we can schedule a call for later this week or Friday," wrote Paiser.
Mashingaidze, naturally excited about the prospects of securing a partnership deal with the English champions, indicated that he would fly to Johannesburg on Monday for further discussions with Paiser.
The Zifa chief executive also said they had drawn up an ambitious plan to not only celebrate their Golden Jubilee, but to also turn around the domestic game that has been poisoned by seemingly endless personality clashes, boardroom squabbles and corruption and more recently match-fixing.
"I will now meet up with him on Monday ext week at midday in Sandton in Johannesburg and follow through with the meeting.
"Our 50th celebrations rekindle the good old days of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and leverage our football beyond the borders.
"We could also use football as an investment vehicle for this nation through infrastructural development, merchandise sponsorship national teams and the clubs and exchange of human capital.
"This year the association should get out of the old shell and become an association that can do business with football's big brands," Mashingaidze said.
Zifa, Mashingaidza also said, have invited regional rivals Bafana Bafana to play the Warriors on Independence Day as part of the country's 33rd anniversary celebrations and the association's Golden Jubilee activities.
Mashingaidze said they had decided to bring an international team for the Uhuru Cup because the Independence Day celebration coincides with the association's Golden Jubilee celebrations.
"This year's Independence Day celebrations will be special in that Zifa will be celebrating 50 years of existence. Unlike in the previous years where our Premiership clubs participated in the Independence Trophy, we will invite a foreign team which will play our Warriors. We have already started the communciation with our counpertarts at Safa," Mashingaidze said.
The Zifa chief executive also said the Football Trust, set to be commisioned in Harare today, would also play a key role in driving the Golden Jubilee activities.
A committee of eminent persons is being put together to operate as the Football Trust and the Zifa board, which was meeting in the capital last night was expected to ratify the Notarial Deed of Trust prepared by their legal department before unveiling the Trustees.
The Football Trust is also expected to come up with a raft of measures that could help Zifa overcome a crippling US$4 million debt that has stifled the assocation's development programmes and saw the national youth teams failing to fulfil their international assignments.