By Petros Kausiyo
WORLD Soccer governing body FIFA, touched by the trail of destruction that Cyclone Idai left in Zimbabwe, have pledged to help rebuild infrastructure for the communities in Chimanimani and other affected areas in the Manicaland province.
In a commendable gesture that is also in line with one of FIFA’s objectives of using the power of football to build better communities, the world body will today dispatch two representatives of the FIFA Foundation to Zimbabwe to meet with ZIFA and Government officials as they roll out their assistance package.
Part of FIFA’s mission statement reads:
“We see it as our mission to contribute towards a better future for the world by using the power and popularity of football. This mission gives meaning and direction to each and every activity that FIFA is involved in – football being an integral part of every society’’.
The FIFA Foundation is an independent entity through which the world body promotes positive change around the globe and today two of the organisation’s project managers Segbe Pritchett and Catarina Ferreira will fly into Harare for the Cyclone Idai mission.
Pritchett had earlier written to ZIFA advising them of their willingness to come through and assist in mitigating the effects of the cyclone and crucially, play a big part in the rebuilding exercise, especially on sporting infrastructure in the affected areas.
In Chimanimani and Chipinge districts there were 61 schools which were affected by the disaster.
Pritchett, in a letter to ZIFA president Felton Kamambo and copied to secretary-general Joseph Mamutse, asked Zifa to identify ways and areas where they needed assistance.
The world body’s Foundation have also extended a similar helping hand to Mozambique and Malawi, two countries that also bore the brunt of the devastation caused by the natural calamity.
“Following the recent devastation of Cyclone Idai, the FIFA Foundation wishes to show its solidarity and respect to the affected communities of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and wishes to initiate the discussions about football infrastructures requiring most urgent repair to enable the local football community to pursue the passion for their sport in times of great need.
“As you know, the FIFA Foundation was created as an independent entity with the objectives to help promote positive change around the word and one of our aim is to provide funding through our community programme for the implementation of development through football and to support social development in underprivileged communities around the world.
“Since we have NGOs in Zimbabwe that are funded under this programme, we are taking this opportunity of our presence in the region to also pay them a visit and discuss their initiatives as well as see their work with our own eyes,’’ Pritchett said.
ZIFA, on their part also took the initiative to donate part of the revenue they raised during the Warriors’ final African Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo towards the Cyclone fund.
Kamambo and his leadership had resolved to donate a dollar from every ticket sold from the Group G showdown which the Warriors won 2-0 via a goal each from Khama Billiat and skipper Knowledge Musona. But it is the FIFA gesture that has left ZIFA grateful and yet humbled, given that the association’s limited resources could not allow them to help in the post Cyclone rebuilding exercise.
ZIFA communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela said yesterday they were ready to welcome the FIFA Foundation delegation and believes the move will help bring smiles to the affected communities.
“We are humbled by this gesture from the FIFA Foundation to visit Zimbabwe at a time when we are still mourning a lot of our brothers and sisters who perished in this natural disaster.
“Some were injured and we are either still in hospitals or recovering from homes. We also have a number of students who were left traumatised by the disaster, some were even orphaned and yet among them some have the potential to become the next generation of our Warriors, Mighty Warriors and Young Warriors.
“So this gesture by FIFA Foundation gives them not only hope for the futures but an opportunity to rebuild and pursue their football dreams,’’ Gwesela said. The ZIFA spokesman in applauding FIFA said their gesture also showed that football was much more than just events on the pitches around the globe.
“Football besides being played on the fields has an important humanitarian purpose hence this very important gesture by FIFA Foundation.
“As ZIFA we donated some funds from our AFCON game against Congo towards the Cyclone Idai cause and so this complementary gesture by FIFA foundation is highly commendable and will go a long way in assisting the affected communities in Manicaland,’’ Gwesela said.
Gwesela said the duo of Pritchett and Ferreira would soon after their arrival today immediately get down to business with the ZIFA spokesman indicating that the pair would apart from meeting the association also hold discussions with officials from the Ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and Local government, Public Works and National Housing.The Sunday Mail