South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan has revealed that relations between his organisation and ZIFA are at an all-time high and poised to even grow more as the two bodies seek to also use their cordial relations to develop the game in Southern Africa.
Jordaan has struck a good understanding with his ZIFA counterpart Philip Chiyangwa and the SAFA boss said the pair’s very close relationship also boded well for football development in the COSAFA region.
The SAFA boss, who is overwhelming favourite to be re-elected president at the association’s elective congress next month, was one of the high-profile guests at the launch of the LaLiga #Passtheball project in one of South Africa’s historical townships of Alexandra last Friday.
Barcelona legend Patrick Kluivert and Spanish Ambassador to South Africa Juan Ignacio Sell Sanz were also present as did Raico Garcia, the man who facilitated the tour of the Barcelona legends to Zimbabwe last year in November, and a ZIFA delegation that included technical director Wilson Mutekede and two councillors – Albert Mucheka and Olivard Guvuriro.
ZIFA just like SAFA have also inked an agreement with Spanish top-flight for a similar project that will soon be rolled out in this country.
But Jordaan, who officiated at the launch shortly before flying out to Morocco where he linked up with Chiyangwa and other African football leaders for the CAF Super Cup final between Wydad Casablanca and TP Mazembe, revealed that he was constantly exploring opportunities with the ZIFA president on how their associations could develop the game in their respective countries and in the region.
Wydad Casablanca won the CAF Super Cup after beating Congolese giants TP Mazembe via a solitary strike by Amin Tighazoui at the Stade Mohamed V in Morocco’s largest city, Casablanca, on Saturday night.
The Super Cup is a competition between the winners of the African Champions League and the second-tier Confederation Cup.
It has been a good run for Moroccan football in the last few months as Wydad Casablanca won the Champions League in November, the same month that their national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia scheduled for June.
Morocco are also bidding to host the 2026 World Cup.
Jordaan and Chiyangwa were at the Stade Mohamed V to watch the encounter before a packed stadium which the hosts’ supporters painted red.
“We have signed a number of agreements as SAFA to try and develop our game and we are also very happy that we are also working closely with ZIFA through Philip and he has also signed an agreement with LaLiga and I think as we continue to work even closer together there will be a lot of benefits for Zimbabwean football,” Jordaan said.
It also emerged that an exchange programme, anchored on technical co-operation between SAFA and ZIFA, is in the offing which could see some local officials spending time in Johannesburg, assessing the development programmes being undertaken by the South Africans.
Although the COSAFA region may have failed to have a team among Africa’s five representatives at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Jordaan said he was happy with the progress made by Southern Africa sides in the men’s, women’s and youth competitions.
“Apart from working together with Philip, we will continue to support countries in the region because we can only be stronger if our region is strong.
“And I think COSAFA has done well when you look at the CHAN tournament, we had three teams from the region in the quarter-finals and at the AFCON our teams have been qualifying regularly now.
“At Under-20 level, COSAFA teams have also done well and in the Women the two teams that went to the Olympics (Zimbabwe and South Africa) were from COSAFA. We have a COSAFA team too (South Africa) at the FIFA Under-17 girls, so we can only get better,” Jordaan said.
The #Passtheball project is a charitable initiative aimed at targeting disadvantaged African youth through football development and donation of equipment and forms part of a comprehensive agreement between ZIFA and LaLiga.
Jordaan also expressed his gratitude to the Spanish for the initiative, which SAFA, just like ZIFA, are looking to spread to centres of the country.
“We are grateful and delighted at our partnership with LaLiga. This is another important initiative by our valued partners (LaLiga) aimed at soccer development in the country. The #Passtheball programme presents a unique opportunity through the exchange of expertise and skills between our local and international coaches from Spain.
“It’s also great to see the donation of soccer equipment which can only aid the overall development of both our budding coaches and the future stars of tomorrow. LaLiga has been a true friend indeed,” said Jordaan.
#Passtheball will see roughly 200 coaches undergo a two-and-half-day training clinic, and 2 000 children receiving specially designed footballs. From Alexandra, the initiative will then move to Stellenbosch in the Western Cape on March 2, 2018, with the hope that this ongoing project will spread to nurture rising football talent in other countries on the continent.
Mutekede, who headlined the ZIFA delegation, said he was now relishing the occasion when the project will be unveiled in Zimbabwe.
“This is a very convenient partnership with Africa and Zimbabwe especially for grassroots.
“The targeting of the disadvantaged communities is so vital in bridging the gap that has always existed between those well-resourced and who have exposure and marginalised.
“Whatever happens at grassroots determines Zimbabwe’s future in football. A right partnership at the right time,” Mutekede said.
The ZIFA technical director said it was also imperative that the country has the right infrastructure for development, something which the South Africans have in abundance.
“Setting up of structures and preparedness is important for Zimbabwean football to attract partners. We need to have the facilities for such projects in every province.
“This is very exciting and encouraging to have LaLiga partnering ZIFA in the quest to unearth football gems for export into professional leagues.
“A new era has dawned in football where a league as opposed to clubs is going out to invest in identification and development of talent and we have to grab this opportunity with both hands and ensure we produce more Knowledge Musonas and more Khamas,” said Mutekede.