By Godknows Matarutse
Aspiring Zifa vice president Gift Banda insists “football is his calling” and he represents the only credible option for the development of the most popular sport in the country if voted into office.
The former Njube Sundowns boss was initially barred from contesting the upcoming polls which have since been rescheduled for December 16, before being reinstated and will go up against the incumbent Omega Sibanda for the vice president post.
Interestingly, Banda who is also a former Zifa Southern Region chairperson beat Sibanda in the regional elections in 2010 and is praying that history repeats itself.
Banda feels the experience he got while he was still at Sundowns will help him make more informed decisions as the vice president of Zifa.
Banda has wasted little time and has since hit the campaign trail in which he is promising to change the face of local the game for the better.
“I’m here to make Zifa better,” Banda told the Daily News. “There are quite a number of things that we can mention. In as much as we hate the Cuthbert Dube era, money that was coming for women’s football was finding its way there even for grassroots, although it was not enough but at least something was being done.
“I felt the current administration should have just continued on the same path and even added more to the grassroots to move forward.
“That’s an area which I feel should be given special attention. We should give kudos to the current administration for taking us to more tournaments.
“We need to appreciate where they have done well and we also need to remind them where they have not done things properly.
“This is generally why I am saying that I want to come in and improve on the areas that they lack for the game to move forward.”
Banda feels the experience he gained while he was still bankrolling Sundowns will make him well-equipped for the Zifa job.
“I am a football person; I understand what it means to run a PSL club and what it also means for those clubs that are involved in grassroots,” he said.
“It’s important that they get some form of grant so that they continue their job of producing players which will then feed to the national team.
“I’m so passionate about junior football because I have been there, done that when I was still Sundowns president and I’m proud of the contributions we have made.
“Football is a calling to me. You can actually equate it to Christianity; once the calling is there you cannot turn it away.”
Banda said the current administration led by Philip Chiyangwa has made some strides in trying to take the game forward and he wants to complement some of their efforts while at the same time improve on their shortcomings.
“I’m not coming into this election for glory. I sat down and saw what Philip has done. It’s great to a certain extent. But there are quite a significant number of shortcomings which I see as a football person and which is why I’m coming in,” he said.
“Chief among them was how the Premier League (PSL) was being treated in the wake of Caf’s resolution of Club Licensing when at the same time the association was not offering any course.
“It was difficult for our clubs as they were meant to pay two coaches because they were caught unaware.
“I have been in football before. I spent a lot of money in football. I was the youngest owner of a football team in the country. At 27, I was already a club owner and that experience will surely come in handy if voted to become the next vice president.
“I have belief in Zimbabwean football and I’m confident it can rise again.”
Banda is also desperate to see Zifa councillors getting the recognition they deserve.
“There is need for us to empower our councillors,” he said.
“Our councillors must be give due recognition especially at Stadiums during our international home matches. They are the owners of the game and surely deserve proper treatment.” DailyNews