Barely a week after sealing an agreement with La Liga, ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa yesterday scored another landmark development for the domestic game when he secured a potentially lucrative partnership deal with a top Romanian company expected to drive the association's junior development programmes.
In a deal facilitated by the Romanian Embassy in Zimbabwe, Chiyangwa yesterday met with the president of Eurrone Finance Group -- Sorin Bouaru -- where a Memorandum of Understanding between the association and the European diversified firm was signed.
ZIFA have often been accused of paying lip service to junior development, but the agreement sealed between the two parties is set to ensure good times roll for youth football in Zimbabwe.
Chiyangwa and Bouaru signed the MoU in the presence of Romania's Charge d'Affaire to Zimbabwe and Malawi's Silviu-Gabriel Barbu and ZIFA lawyer Itai Ndudzo. The preamble of the document gave brief backgrounds of the two parties to the deal.
". . . whereas ZIFA has the overall responsibility, authority and oversight on all association football activities in Zimbabwe including youth and junior development.
"Whereas ZIFA has a mandate to work towards the development of football by establishing and engaging with international partners who would be able to sponsor youth and junior football in Zimbabwe".
A resume of Eurrone Finance Group, who are based in Bucharest is also outlined, part of which reads:
"Whereas Eurrone is a diversified corporate group with interests in East and Central Europe extending to communication, energy electronics, commerce and sports promotion.
"Whereas Eurrone is desirous of investing in football in Zimbabwe and have the necessary contact links in Eastern and Central Europe with junior football academies and key football institutions".
Both parties also underlined their willingness to enter into an agreement that is mutually beneficial to them. The agreement by ZIFA and Eurrone included that:
That for a period of 30 days from the date of signature of this Memorandum of Understanding, Eurrone shall facilitate for ZIFA to send a delegation to its principal place of business and its contacts in East and Central Europe for purposes of assessing the possibilities in junior and youth football development
That ZIFA facilitate for Euronne's tour of football academies and programmes run by some of its affiliates on youth and junior football development
Both parties shall cooperate in good faith in the establishment of a partnership pursuant to the terms and conditions defined herein and pursuant to the terms and conditions to be set out in the envisaged agreement between them. As such:
The parties agree and confirm that they have each secured the requisite approval to enter into this agreement. The authority also extends to the signing of any substantive agreements and the structuring of any arrangements to enable all transactions in pursuance of this partnership."
While the deal that Chiyangwa sealed with La Liga is wide-ranging and includes assisting talented players direct access to clubs in the Spanish leagues and setting up of community clubs, yesterday's partnership with the Romanians places special emphasis on "where it all begins" -- junior and youth football.
"Upon receipt and conclusion of all negotiations, the parties shall sign a detailed contract defining more precise roles and procedures that will govern the entire partnership agreement".
The comprehensive document also touched on the major obligations of either party as they seek to forge a long and lasting partnership that will turn on the corner in ZIFA's efforts to identify and nurture talent in the country.
"ZIFA shall collaborate with Eurrone for the development of football in Zimbabwe with a special focus on youth and junior development.
"Eurrone shall facilitate mutual beneficial exchange of specialised human capital, equipment, material resources between East and Central European countries and Zimbabwe.
"Both parties shall collaborate in the training, research and development of caches, technical and administrative staff between East and central European countries and Zimbabwe.
"Eurrone shall facilitate tournaments, workshops and related activities between East and central European countries and Zimbabwe," the agreements reads.
In an era in which the buzzword from President Mnangangwa's Government has been that "Zimbabwe is open for business" Chiyangwa appears to have fully embraced that mantra and upped his game in securing partnerships for ZIFA that will help the association in developing all facets of the game.
Apart from junior and youth development, the move by Eurrone Finance Group to also consider building the capacities of coaches, technical and administrative staff should be greeted with excitement by technical director Wilson Mutekede and the councillors who represent the different structures of football.
On Saturday, the ZIFA Congress ratified the agreement that Chiyangwa and La Liga signed in South Africa last Thursday. Through the La Liga Pass the ball Project, the signing parties herewith agree on the following:
Training of the trainer projects programmes through La Liga certified and qualified trainers/coaches targeting mainly grassroots coaches in schools, colleges and communities. Donation of La Liga Passtheball balls to Zimbabwe
Organising coaching clinics and training camps both in Zimbabwe and Spain Providing exposure to talented Zimbabwean footballers in La Liga
Promote enthusiasm in football as well as sports tourism through periodic bringing into Zimbabwe of La Liga ambassadors/ legends Organise football tours for Zimbabwean teams to Spain as well as La Liga teams to Zimbabwe
Any other football development initiatives that can be agreed from time to time".