The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Football Trust Launched

DOMESTIC football is expected to herald a new era this year, after some of the country's top corporate citizens came on board for the Zimbabwe Football Trust, which was unveiled in the capital yesterday. The Football Trust, a shift from previous similar initiatives which focused only on the Warriors, has been tasked with helping Zifa offset a crippling US$4 million debt and institute a corporate touch to the way the game is administered in the country.

Zifa have also been struggling to turn on a new image that can convince a doubting nation that they are an association worthy of doing business with.

This emanates from a tainted image following more than two decades of allegations of maladministration and corruption on the part of successive Zifa boards and more recently, the match-fixing scandal involving the senior national team.

But yesterday, a breath of fresh air swept across the national game as a 10-member Trust was commissioned by Zifa president Cuthbert Dube.

The Trustees, who include businessmen, business executives and businesswomen have a tough task to change the face of the domestic game but Dube and his board expressed confidence that the Trust would deliver its mandate.

"Zifa would like to confirm that the Zimbabwe Football Trust is what our game has been waiting for. The Trust shall be the association's vehicle which shall turn around the fortunes of our game.

"Established in terms of the Zifa constitution, the Zimbabwe Football Trust shall service football as mandated by Zifa. The Trust shall extricate the association from the challenges of yesteryear by unlocking local football's value and repositioning our game in terms of its profile.

"The Trust shall be a strategic and complementary arm of the association. The Trust shall mobilise resources for football while Zifa concentrates on promoting, controlling and developing the game.

"The Trust upon assuming duty today shall get down to serious business and be seized with debt servicing (Zifa are US$4 million in the red) general administration, development, merchandise, marketing, competitions, football association cup and national teams," Dube said.

Among the Trustees are Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Innocent Mavhunga, Mbada Diamonds chief executive Patience Khumalo, Marange Resources board chairman Tshinga Dube, businesswomen Marah Hativagone and Barbra "Mai Red Rose" Chikosi and Led Travel and Tours managing director Bernard Gwarada.

Dynamos vice-chairman Webster Chikengezha, who is also a managing director at Nyaradzo Funeral Assurance, Zimbabwe soccer legend George Shaya, and businessmen Solomon Cheure and Philemon Machana make up the Trustees.

Dube, flanked by his deputy -- Ndumiso Gumede -- and some members of his board said the time had come for the national game to unlock its real value.

"Every man has the right to decide his own destiny . . . when the reggae icon of all time, the late Bob Marley, penned the inspirational song at the height of his career he meant to challenge mankind to take charge of how their future would look like.

"One has to choose between wallowing in desperation, frustration, low esteem and hopelessness on one hand and fearlessly declaring that the sky would be the limit and that one had to fend for himself.

"We are gathered here to witness football's resolve to turn our game into a formidable force that believes in its might being a resource that can take the game to unprecedented levels," Dube said.

The Zifa president said his association had become a laughing stock after failing to service their commitments but was optimistic that such a perception would soon become history.

"Zimbabwean Football has over the years been left at the mercy of palm givers. Our game depended on crumbs from the table as the family of football failed to attach a value tag to the most beautiful game.

"For a long time we have allowed our game to be a cheap picking for those out to use football for personal gain. Our game's worth is equivalent to the legacy for next generations.

"We have been a laughing stock for a long time as we have failed to service our commitments and we have been subjected to name calling and ridiculing. We were always viewed as a disorganised sport code which had to depend on handouts.

"We were viewed as an institution that could not fend for itself. Today ladies and gentlemen Zifa would like to declare that the hour has come for football to unlock its real value and that shall be made possible through the inception of the Zimbabwe Football Trust whose existence is going to be solemnised today.

"Our game's history is replete with failed attempts at creating self-sustaining structures for football and let me hasten to say that the failures of yesteryear should spur us to establish a Trust that shall stand in the way of all forms of vagaries that may militate against the existence of a truly football Trust," Dube said.

The Zifa president also paid special tribute to the Mzansi 90 committee led by Mbada Diamonds executive George Manyaya, which last year did a sterling job to mobilise resources for the Warriors during their failed 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

Dube also hailed the companies, which supported the Mzansi 90 crew's cause ahead of the Warriors final qualifier against Angola in which Rahman Gumbo's men blew a 3-1 first leg lead achieved at Rufaro to lose 2-0 in Luanda and bow out on the away goal's rule.

"Zifa would like to congratulate the Mzansi 90 for a job well done during the failed Nations Cup campaign.

"Mzansi 90 mobilized a lot of resources which serviced our senior national team in the final leg against Angola. The audit report (for Mzansi 90) is expected next week," Dube said.

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