Tadious Manyepo, Sports Reporter
THE ZIFA board has come under attack for distributing football equipment meant for grassroots development to established clubs including some in the top-flight league.
The association, a fortnight ago donated training equipment which comprises cones, footballs and bibs, among other items, to Premiership teams that include giants CAPS United, Dynamos and Black Rhinos.
But it has since emerged the gear, which was acquired from FIFA by the previous board led by Philip Chiyangwa, was originally meant for rural academies.
In any case, ZIFA in September last year unveiled the equipment at a media function at their offices to which the association’s president, Felton Kamambo, announced it was on its way to junior and women’s football development.
He claimed the consignment had been bought by his association using the FIFA solidarity grants.
Kamambo, who beat Chiyangwa to the post in December 2018, had promised to launch provincial junior leagues starting with Manicaland but nothing has been done as yet.
He never gave any hint the items had in actual fact been acquired by the previous board at the ceremony. ‘‘For starters, we are going to have 10 (junior) clubs per province. We are going to launch these in all regions.
‘‘We have some interim committees that will be running the youth league. Our first launch will be in the Eastern Region, on a date to be advised, most likely within the next two weeks,” said Kamabo then.
But former ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda revealed this week the equipment arrived in the country just before the December 2018 elections.
“The previous ZIFA board led by (Philip) Chiyangwa managed to acquire football development equipment from FIFA. The consignment arrived just before the election and it was meant for rural areas,” said Sibanda.
“As a transparent board with football development at heart we made sure the equipment was handed over to the newly-elected board led by (Felton) Kamambo.
“We told them the equipment was requested from FIFA for distribution in rural academies. We believe in grassroots development for that is where everything begins. We had done well to empower urban academies and the equipment in question was meant for the rural football nurseries.”
Sibanda said the then ZIFA board had managed to invite FIFA officials to tour the country’s rural areas where need for development equipment in the regions was raised.
The officials then delivered the gear to ZIFA weeks before the 2018 elections.
“We made it clear to FIFA that we are requesting equipment for rural football development.
“Surprisingly, the equipment is now being donated to Premier Soccer League teams. The consignment had small-sized footballs meant for young boys and imagine those footballs are now being given to top-flight players. Is it logical?
“It is very unfortunate on the part of the ZIFA board. Their priorities are misplaced. How can they afford to pay no attention to development? They have to do the honourable thing and resign from office.”
Sibanda said there had been a lot of policy inconsistencies in the ZIFA board and called on them to step down for the good of football in the country.
“Football has indeed gone to the dogs. My heart bleeds profusely when I see some people elected to safeguard football turn destroyers of the game in the country.
“It’s not like we are trying to interfere with the running of the game in the country but where are we going when the equipment we acquired for grassroots development is not given to the intended beneficiaries?
“We never complained when these guys beat us in the election, for we knew the councillors had been bribed. We had to go with our integrity intact but then what is this? Where are we going when even the age-group national teams are not given the chance to participate in significant international tournaments? We need to be developmental in approach and this board has failed, to say the least. They have to resign,” fumed Sibanda.
Efforts to get a comment from ZIFA president Kamambo proved fruitless yesterday.