Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
ABOUT 20 pairs of shoes for the high-profile FIFA/COSAFA coaching course, which ended in Bulawayo on Sunday, vanished last week while the material was being transported to the City of Kings, in yet another huge embarrassment for troubled ZIFA.
The controversy brought a fitting end to a coaching course which grabbed headlines last week when eyebrows were raised as to why it was being held at a Bulawayo hotel, which is part of a group of low-cost hotels, where a ZIFA board member is a top executive.
The four-day coaching course, underwritten by FIFA and COSAFA, was for Level One young coaches and was one of the highlights of the African Union Sports Council Under-20 Youth Games which opened in Bulawayo last week.
Material for the coaches was provided by FIFA as part of its development programme for the region.
On arrival in Harare, the material was reported to have been confiscated by Zimra officials, which meant that the coaches did not have their equipment when the course got underway.
Upon the release of the equipment, ZIFA, who were the custodians of the material given that it had come from FIFA, then said they put the equipment on a Bulawayo-bound commuter omnibus last Friday.
Part of the equipment arrived in the City of Kings on Friday night, but virtually all the shoes, which were for the participants, were missing.
Sources said the kombi driver told COSAFA officials that the box containing the shoes meant for the coaches was blown away by strong winds on his way to Bulawayo.
COSAFA officials, understandably, were not happy with the explanation and wondered why ZIFA officials had not provided a more secure mode of transport.
ZIFA communications manager Xolisani Gwesela could not be reached for comment as he is in Cameroon attending a CAF media workshop.
His boss, ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, could also not be reached to shed light on this embarrassing chapter either, as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Twenty Zimbabwean football coaches attended the FIFA/COSAFA youth coaches workshop.
The coaches were drawn from the country’s 10 provinces.
ZIFA have been found wanting in terms of playing their supporting role in the hosting of the youth sporting showcase.
Last week, The Herald revealed that the coaching course was being held at Bulawayo’s Cecil Hotel, which was acquired by low-cost hospitality group, Hotels and Leisure Africa, in October this year.
ZIFA board member Fungai Chihuri is the general manager of one of its hotels, the HALA Select Selous Hotel, in Harare.
Questions were asked as to how the FIFA/COSAFA coaching course ended up being hosted at a Bulawayo hotel, where Chihuri is a senior executive at the hospitality group that owns the hotel, and whether this doesn’t present a clear case of a conflict of interest.
Chihuri, the ZIFA board member in charge of competitions and Mashingaidze, attended the COSAFA annual general meeting in Johannesburg last month.
The COSAFA annual indaba was for the presidents, vice-presidents and chief executives of the football associations that fall under the Southern African regional grouping and Chihuri attended the indaba standing in for ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube.
ZIFA vice president Omega Sibanda, who was not only supposed to be a delegate at the indaba, but could have stood in for Dube — who did not attend the meeting — was not even advised that the association was required to send delegates to the COSAFA annual general meeting last month.
The invites for the ZIFA president, vice president and chief executive to attend the 2014 COSAFA annual general meeting were sent to the association’s headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue but, for one reason or another, Sibanda was not advised of the indaba.
Instead, a hand was extended to Chihuri to attend as acting ZIFA president. The COSAFA officials, who are running the football tournament at these Games, arrived in the country to find that the host national association had not made plans for them to be received at the airport.