By Eddie Chikamhi
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo yesterday said his board is ready to embrace every member of the football family and start on a new slate after lifting the bans on 11 people that had been thrown into the football dustbin for various offences over the last two years.
The new ZIFA board, which was elected into office last week, held their first board meeting in Harare yesterday, where they agreed to ease the tensions as well as working on a vibrant business model to make ZIFA profitable.
The board also seeks to foster a development agenda that should help the game scale new heights.
Kamambo, one of the 11 whose suspensions were lifted yesterday, had been banned in April together with Piraishe Mabhena.
He said the board was unanimous in their approach which aims to include all football brains at home and abroad.
The other individuals that had been hit by the bans in the last two years included former women soccer bosses Miriam Sibanda and Samukeliso Silengane, and ex-ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze.
The suspensions were lifted without conditions, with former ZIFA presidents Trevor Carelse Juul and Rafiq Khan, ex-vice president Vincent Pamire, journalist Hope Chizuzu and honorary life members Eucebia Maseko and Richard Maseko also benefiting from the decision.
“The board has decided to lift all suspensions. It doesn’t mean we condone whatever led to the suspensions, or that it was right, but we felt that we wanted to unite the football family. By so doing, we felt, maybe, it’s one way that we can all start on a new slate,” said Kamambo.
Kamambo was excited by the enthusiasm demonstrated by his colleagues when he presided over his inaugural ZIFA board meeting as chairman.
Kamambo unseated Philip Chiyangwa in a poll held last week, with Gift Banda also coming in as vice-president after beating Omega Sibanda.
The other members of the new board include ex-referee Brighton Malandule, Chamu Chiwanza, Sugar Chagonda, Phillemon Machana, PSL’s Farai Jere and Women’s Soccer League boss Barbra Chikosi.
“There was a lot of excitement and we are hoping we are going to deliver. I have never failed in my life. If I am going to fail, this will be the first time,” said Kamambo.
“I liked the excitement by the board members. For your own information, I am not going to suspend any board member for any other offence.
“Any other offence, we will sit around the table and discuss, but if you don’t perform on your pillars, then we may be forced to suspend you. I have told them this point blank.
“We want to treat this ZIFA as a business. Whatever we are going to do, it’s business-like. Even the type of our agenda, it’s business-like. We want to make money for ZIFA. We would want to make our fans happy next year.
“We want to make sure we attract more fans to come and watch our matches. Even as executive we are not only confining ourselves to the national teams, we will also be checking on the provinces, regions and the PSL to make sure we attract more fans,” said Kamambo.
But as the dust settles down in the aftermath of the highly contentious elections and with a frightening $8m-plus legacy debt hanging over their heads, it is also important to look at what is at the stake for Zimbabwe’s football for the next four years.
Kamambo said they have engaged Government over the ballooning debts and are also looking to engage their various creditors to map a way out. The ZIFA president announced that Machana, the only man who survived the winds of change from the previous board, will continue as the board member responsible for finance.
Ex-referee Malandule has been tasked with two portfolios after he was named in charge of the Referees Committee and Development.
Another new broom, Sugar Chagonda, who is also the secretary-general of newly promoted Premiership club Manica Diamonds, has been tasked with spearheading marketing and managing the Player Status Committee.
Businessman Chiwanza has been given the Competitions portfolio, while Chikosi is in charge of Women’s Football.
Kamambo stressed that development will be their key focus area.
“We discussed quite a number of issues, but our thrust as a board is mainly on the development of our teams, particularly futsal, beach soccer, women’s soccer and men’s soccer.
“Next year we’re going to introduce junior leagues for both men and women. On the women’s side, our target is to have a fully-fledged premier league and also regional leagues for women.
“At the same time we also aim to have junior leagues for women at regional level.
“For men, I have actually engaged the disbanded ZIFA Junior Football League.
“There are structures that are there, so the board member concerned is going to make sure that we have some junior leagues starting next year.
“At the same time we are also going to instruct the PSL clubs to come up with junior teams that will participate in junior league in their respective provinces.
“What we are going to do is that PSL will pay some money to ZIFA and that money will then be ploughed back into the junior league so that we encourage them to have those structures and they will have players who have club culture by catching them young. The Herald
Competitions – Chamunorwa Chiwanza
Finance – Phillemon Machana
Referees and Development – Brighton Malandule
Marketing and Player Status – Sugar Chagonda
Women’s Football – Barbra Chikosi