By Tadious Manyepo
Local football veterans have come together to form a representative and empowerment arm which they intend to use to impart life skills to their members.
The Football Ambassadors of Zimbabwe (FAZ), registered under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, is meant to empower retired stars.
Although the organisation was established in 2016, it has existed on an amateur basis, since it wasn’t legally recognised.
It only became official after the issuance of certification, from the Labour Ministry, but its official launch was delayed due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
FAZ vice-chairman, Justice Majabvi, said they have lined up several projects, including mining and agriculture, from which the former footballers will benefit.
“Football Ambassadors of Zimbabwe is an organisation for the former players, it is an all-encompassing grouping, for both men and women,” said Majabvi.
“It is a private voluntary organisation, registered under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
“It was formed with the aim of helping out former footballers.
“As you may know, former footballers in this country often disappear from the game’s radar, as soon as they hang up their playing boots.
“We are also engaging the Government and we are happy to announce that we have made significant ground, pertaining empowerment projects.
“We are going to venture into agriculture and mining, among other projects, which can actually contribute to the country’s GDP.”
The organisation’s secretary-general, David Sengu-Maketo, said they realised former footballers were not getting the recognition they deserve and, by coming up with this establishment, they were hoping to address that.
He said the game still needs its former players, in every aspect but, due to some financial difficulties, the ex-footballers have not been able to enrol for requisite courses.
“We believe this project will keep ex-footballers together. Life after football has been difficult for so many yet, as former footballers, we feel that we have plenty to offer, even after retiring from active play,” said Sengu-Maketo.
“Our aim is to bring those former players together, and empower them through imparting life skills, while having informative programmes that deal with abuse of alcohol and other social menaces.
“We have also decided to continue playing football, as the ambassadors of the game and that way, we will feel very much united.
“We have members from across the country and all of them are keen to ride on.”
He said the organisation have engaged several companies, who have shown interest.
“We have been working with several corporates and we continue engaging others so that we partner them,’’ he said.
“We have been having a lot of planning, in terms of projects that we intend to empower the former players with.
“We are also not divorcing ourselves from the game, instead, we are also going to facilitate for our members to enrol for coaching, and administrative courses, for the improvement of the game in the country.
“This will definitely go a long way in helping out some of our guys, who have been finding it difficult, to attend these courses due to financial difficulties.”
Maketo said the FAZ have already started communicating with other regional and international bodies.
“We are here to compliment football development in the country.
Our members will enrol for administration and coaching courses,’’ he said.
“Those who are not willing will be trained in life skills.
“We believe that they should lead decent lives even after their active playing days are over.
“We are happy to be here and we are already engaging other stakeholders on where they can come in.
“We are also in contact with regional and international bodies who have been in the trenches for some time.
“We are fully behind every soccer stakeholder in Zimbabwe, we believe in working together for the development of the game in the country. We have international matches, as FAZ coming up, just watch the space.” The Herald