1 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Zimunya Goads Ex-Players to Action

Veteran football administrator Francis Zimunya was yesterday back to his familiar rhetoric -- that of claiming that only former players had the capacity to help lift the Warriors back into the top 100 on the FIFA rankings.

The Warriors once again ended the year outside the world's best 100 teams and out of Africa's top 20 and Zimunya reckoned this was because "former players have let football down by taking a back seat when the game is in desperate need of ideas to rise from its current quagmire".

Zimunya, who is the chairman of the Lifelong Footballers Trust, yesterday told a small gathering of representatives from former footballers and past administrators at an indaba at Raylton Sports Club that Zimbabwe's number 103 placing on the global rankings was a bad reflection of the state of the game.

"We have called for this meeting to take stock of ourselves as former footballers as to what contributions have been made by ourselves and other stakeholders in furthering the development of the game in Zimbabwe. Imagine we used to be number eight in Africa and now we are a miserable number 25 in Africa. We were number 40 in the world and now we are shamefully number 103 in the world.

"Surely something has gone wrong somewhere that we as the football community and country at large, need to address drastically so that we bring back our glorious positions and image that we used to occupy on the regional and global stage.

"I challenge all former footballers to start the process of transforming the game by participating in the game at all levels, that is, coaching, refereeing and administration. That process begins with you. Let's make 2018 the year that we restored our football legacy," said Zimunya.

While Zimunya appeared to be making a clarion call on former footballers in what has been his call too familiar rhetoric, the outgoing Chegutu Pirates chairman, seemed to make veiled attack on the ZIFA leadership by claiming that only former footballers have the capacity to "rescue the game".

Zimunya claimed that ZIFA were in a deplorable state with the former Northern Region chairman who has since 2010 also often contested and lost in elections, conveniently forgetting that despite finishing outside of the top 100, it was also in 2017 that the Warriors took part at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon and were crowned regional champions when winning the COSAFA Castle Cup for a record fifth time.

That the Warriors were denied more game time in bigger international assignments following Zimbabwe's expulsion from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, also seemed to have escaped Zimunya's attention as he blamed it all on the perceived rot in the management at ZIFA.

The Lifelong Footballers Trust leader who has a history of making the loudest noise whenever election season is approaching, believes that only former footballers have has the capacity to run the game in a world where the sport has become a big industry that requires best international corporate practices.

"We need to come out of our shells and start getting involved in all aspects of the games and at all levels of football starting at grassroots level, that is, juniors, area zones and provinces.

"This is a catalyst for soccer development where every former player should take a keen interest and participate fully by giving back to the community the skills and knowledge given to you by clubs that you have played for or administered.

"The skills and knowledge that you acquired over the years during the period that one has been in action was an investment made to you by the club, ZIFA and the nation at large that the country rely on for further re-investment in the development of the game in Zimbabwe.

"The deploring state of affairs in ZIFA and football at large is largely our fault as the football family and we should accept that blame and responsibility collectively as each one of us should start by asking what are the positive contributions that each has brought to football.

"We need to take a paradigm shift in the way we do football business. We need a change of attitude in whatever we do because we are role models in the communities that we live and we shape the future of the current generation and those to come."

The meeting was also attended by former deputy mayor of Harare Chris Mbanga, ex-Zimbabwe Soccer Referee's Association treasurer Pascal Zata, former Motor Action midfielder Clyde Musiya, former ZIFA Northern Region secretary general Stanley Mudhokwani, ex-ZIFA officials Lazarus Mhurushomana and Cecilia Gambe.

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