By Tadious Manyepo
After defying odds to become ZIFA president when defeating favourite incumbent Philip Chiyangwa over the weekend, Felton Kamambo is taking no prisoners as he gets down to the association’s serious work.
Kamambo recovered from the frustrations he endured as he was initially barred from contesting in the polls by the ZIFA Electoral College under controversial circumstances, and was only allowed to stand for the position after the intervention of world soccer governing body FIFA.
And he delivered the proverbial knock-out blow which shocked the local football world as he beat Chiyangwa in the ZIFA elections in Harare on Sunday.
Chiyangwa was the odds-on favourite to retain the post, but found himself trailing in the first round of voting though his rival failed to garner the requisite two thirds majority to out-rightly claim the presidency.
But the Cosafa president, sensing humiliation, withdrew his candidature before the rerun. Now with an almost new-look board before him, Kamambo has promised to change the face of football in the country.
He was joined in the presidium by Gift Banda, who beat Omega Sibanda to the vice presidency.
Banda, like Kamambo, had also been disqualified before the intervention of FIFA.
In his 10-point manifesto, Kamambo pledged to return ZIFA offices to 53 Livingstone Avenue and the shift is already underway.
During his tenure, Chiyangwa had housed the local soccer mother-body at his offices along Enterprise Road in Harare. Kamambo also spoke about the future of the senior national team.
The Warriors are just a point away from securing their fifth berth in the African Cup of Nations finals to be held in June next year.
They top Group G and need to avoid defeat against Congo Brazzaville at home in March 2019 to progress to the finals to be held at a venue still to be determined after CAF stripped Cameroon of the hosting rights, the West African nation having failed to meet schedule.
And Kamambo has pledged to ensure that the senior men’s national team realise that dream.
He has challenged his board to display professional ethos consistent with public office bearers to instil confidence to the corporate world.
“I would like to thank the councillors for choosing me to lead football in the country. It’s obviously not a drink and biscuit job. It’s a challenge. I have decided to be a servant and I should be seen adding value to the country’s football,” said Kamambo.
“There is a lot of work lying ahead. We have both long and short-term objectives as a board. We have the Warriors who are on the verge of qualifying for the 2019 AFCON finals.
“It is our duty as a new administration to see to it that we achieve that feat. We have to move back to ZIFA House and that’s already underway. I am confident the board elected is capable of delivering. We must get down to (some) serious work.”
Kamambo has always been a development exponent and has since pledged to revive junior leagues.
Junior leagues have literally disappeared from the radar in Zimbabwe and that junior national teams are not given the chance to represent the country in international tournaments is not helping matters either.
While the men’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams have appeared in Cosafa tournaments, the same cannot be said for the women’s teams.
With other neighbouring countries serious about junior development as evidenced by the South African Under-17 women’s squad ability to stand toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best in the World Cup this year, Zimbabwe is still lagging behind on this aspect.
But Kamambo has committed to address these issues for the development of football in the country.
“Practically, there is no junior development to talk about in this country. We need to start from the Area Zones going upwards. There is no football to talk about without first addressing grassroots development.
“We are committed to this and we will do everything to make sure that the coaches will have a good number of stars to select from. Football development is systematic and scientific. We have to know that.”
But ZIFA have always found it difficult to secure Government funding. The previous administration depended more on their friends than corporates.
However, Kamambo and his board could find themselves better-placed on this issue if the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission successfully lobbies for Government funding to all sporting federations as is most likely.
Meanwhile, congratulatory messages for Kamambo continue to pour in, with most Premiership clubs and other stakeholders yesterday lining up to give him a pat on the back.
“We believe he (Kamambo) has enough experience both in football and in the corporate world. He was involved in grassroots soccer in Mhangura and played before my time there,” said former Young Warriors coach, Phillip Mbofana. The Herald