By Petros Kausiyo
Harare business executive, Marshal Jonga, believes Zimbabwe’s quickest route to a FIFA World Cup could be through Beach Soccer and has vowed to breathe life into this version of the game.
Jonga will on August 9 be challenging the stranglehold that incumbent chairman Joseph Musariri has had on Zimbabwe’s Beach Soccer and wants to be its next chairman.
The pair of Jonga and Musariri were the only contestants for the chairman’s post when nominations closed.
The Beach Soccer chairman could have been elected on July 14, but the ZIFA Electoral Committee deferred the staging of the polls as they sought to clarify issues related to the electoral college of the affiliate.
The affiliate has, however, regularised its structures and are now ready to vote for their leader on August 9.
“It’s fairly simple to get to a World Cup because the top two African countries will represent the continent and this World Cup takes place every two years.
“At the moment there are about 16 African countries playing Beach Soccer so, yes, our chances of getting there are high and we have plenty of talent in Zimbabwe.
“But for the last seven years Beach Soccer has only existed in name without structures.
“Even the members of the electoral committee had to postpone the elections after noting that the absence of the structures and that alone calls for a change in approach and a change in leadership.
He also noted with concern the fact that Zimbabwe have only watched from a distance as CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of nations tournament come and go.
“CAF have opened the bids for those willing to host the 2020 Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations and had we put our house in order in the last five or so years, we could by now be submitting a bid to host the event.
“There are not many countries bidding to host and unlike AFCON, the Beach Soccer Nations Cup is not very complicated to host, but the problem is that we have to first play the game and spread it around the country and in schools.”
Jonga also dispelled the notion that Zimbabwe is unable to play this version of football.
“ZIFA also receive a grant from FIFA’s Forward funds which can be used to expand the game. In fact, the money is there at FIFA and we just need to put our house in order and apply for the funds.
“In the last one-and-a-half years that I have been involved with Beach Soccer I have seen a lot of potential and I think we can take this sport to another level.
“In order for us to make inroads we should spread it to schools, tertiary institutions and regions so that in the next 12 months we can have a Beach Soccer League kicking off.
“Contrary to public belief that absence of oceans and big dams could hamper the game, in Zimbabwe, we have natural Beach Soccer pitches on dry river beds and we have already constructed one at ZIFA Village,” Jonga said.