Phillip Zulu in LEEDS, England
Problems associated with our football in Zimbabwe have nothing to do with an individual coach like Sunday Chidzambwa, Lloyd Mutasa, Calisto Pasuwa, Madinda Ndlovu or anyone, but largely emanate from mediocre leadership, decadence of sound knowledge as to how the modern game is managed globally.
We have a system that is extremely defiant of how they want to run the affairs of the national football, but the expertise and intelligence are the missing link.
They’ve become more like voodooists, spirit mediums with miracle answers at every turn but alarmingly poor in every detour of seeking divine intervention of their solutions. Firstly, ZIFA have never allowed sober debate across the board to try and engage everyone as to how best football can be approached, normalised and progress with professionalism.
Everything is haphazardly done, every mistake is hurriedly exterminated without due diligence, serious and critical thought process of not repeating it again in the near distant future.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to call for an all-stakeholders outreach at ZIFA headquarters so that we all have an opportunity to open up the discourse to the wider interested parties, but shockingly the agenda was subverted and circumvented as the Cuthbert Dube cartel spirited another fight to prolong its administration in power.
We lost a great opportunity to discuss, argue, engage and digest all issues proffered in debating, to build a new consensus as a modicum template of how we could progress. What ZIFA are doing now is simply fire-fighting and the dangers of such rushed emotional responses have serious implications as we all know that long-term solutions are not being addressed.
ZIFA should engage all football lovers locally and abroad. Coaches, former players, administrators, etc who are in the Diaspora have something to say. Max Makanza Lunga, George Mbwando, Eddie Mukahanana, Isaac Mbedzi, Chamu and Walter Musanhu, Peter Mapendere and others are all Uefa licensed Zimbabweans who are working in professional leagues in Europe, Asia and America.
They have something to say, not a gathering of a technical directorate that is highly deplorable and clueless, being given a largesse, endless opportunities of further damaging the game.
We have far too many professional players in European leagues right now and it’s best to also engage them.
Tendai Darikwa has got a Uefa B licence and watching him play for Zimbabwe at this year’s AFCON finals in Cairo, Egypt, he looked like was actually coaching on the pitch.
MaCauley Bonne, Darikwa, Kundai Benyu, etc, all have some input to help our football and it’s folly for the guys at ZIFA to try and make it “their privileged internal, high-walled, agenda and discourse” that they unleash on the unassuming football fraternity at every turn when their failures threaten their livelihoods.
Time has come when we need to have a say as a nation, not as some captured cartels of football dissonance that derailed the recent AFCON tournament in Egypt.
Solutions to our football are simple, basic and straight forward in the sense that local football does no longer possess the much sought answers.
In the UK, we have initiated junior structures since 2010 after engaging the then ZIFA Technical Director Nelson Matongorere and these structures have produced more than 15 young Zimbabweans who are in professional clubs locally and abroad.
Our DNA is embedded in how we can play, tutor and coach these players at the highest levels if ZIFA allows and integrates such structures in the further development of junior national teams and trickling down into the local leagues back home.
Our coaches in Europe are always going for further training, having refresher courses at every turn hence our progress is not limited.
We have networks all over in top European leagues and our knowledge patterns are indexed on wider platforms, unlike at ZIFA where a perennial failure from CAPS United, Shabani Mine, Twalumba etc is hyper re-cycled in damaging the development of the game.
Local coaches at this juncture are ideal for coaching the senior national team, at least the best candidates are Joey Antipas and Methembe Ndlovu.
The Technical Directorate needs to be staffed with at least two coaches from abroad who will bring about a new curriculum that is consistent with top-flight football abroad, then all the structures abroad can directly pour into a functional system that is results-oriented and its mission statement crafted on knowledge and expertise.
My recommendations at this stage are:
Let’s us stabilise the ship by getting local guys who share this vision and long term strategy (Joey Antipas and Methembe Ndlovhu) on an interim basis for at least on yearly rolling on contracts before plunging for a foreign guy.
The Technical Directorate recruits at least these two guys, who are tasked with developing coaches in schools, clubs, academies etc. They work closely with all national teams and are allowed to formulate programmes that are consistent with professional football in Europe.
Our structure of junior football development in UK is embedded in the wider national teams so as to complement what the new Technical Directorate will embark on. Our curriculum in UK has been proven and tested, we have produced more than 20 professional footballers from different ethnic backgrounds without any budgets or funding from any sources, just good planing, pragmatism and focus.
Zimbabwean football doesn’t need too much tempering at this stage, we just need a simple approach like we did with the former Technical Director Nelson Matongorere who agreed with us back then, that we should be creative in setting up structures in the UK that will involve more young Zimbabweans and build from there slowly.
In 2010 we initiated a massive Futsal programme that all these coaches got involved in intensively, we had more than 50 young players aged from Under-10, 12, 14 and 16. We count over 15 players who are in professional football today. This is how we brought an idea to fruition, strategic planning, vision and focusing, designing a suitable curriculum with right technical guys extensively involved from start to finish.
The change factor in Zimbabwe can only be achieved if you guys are willing to embrace structures that will come and share their experiences, help to mentor local aspiring coaches and implement practical and theoretical modules on the ground.