Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA yesterday launched an audacious life skills empowerment programme for footballers in Bulawayo which attracted Premier Soccer League and lower division players.
An initiative of the Zifa Southern Region’s technical and development committee, the day-long empowerment workshop attracted 116 participants, with Bulawayo City FC being the only topflight club whose players attended.
Despite the bulk of footballers coming from the lower divisions, Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda described the workshop as a success and said the programme will be spread to other parts of the country.
“This is an initiative of the technical and development committee whose aim is to make players aware of various components of life, which contribute to their performances. Issues like HIV/Aids, how to invest and avoid living or dying as paupers. That is why we partnered strategic partners, the NGOs, so that we do the awareness activities together. What we’re simply doing is providing mentorship and this programme will spread across the country,” said Sibanda.
Some coaches, who include Bosso 90’s Melusi Sibanda and Dalubuhle Bhebhe of Talen Vision, whose clubs are affiliated to the Zifa Southern Region, also attended the workshop.
Zifa Southern Region invited Matabeleland Aids Council, New Start Centre, banks, former players, the Sports and Recreation Commission and medical anti-doping officials.
A Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe official also gave footballers tips on defensive driving and discouraged them from driving without licences or under the influence of alcohol.
A number of footballers have in the past found themselves on the wrong side of the law by driving without a licence.
Tumediso Mokena Ndlovu, the Zifa regional training and development administrator, challenged players and officials at the workshop to educate their peers.
“The programme is part of the region’s technical and development initiatives aimed at educating upcoming and current footballers to become responsible persons. Some of the issues tackled at the convention included drugs and alcohol, which highly affects most players’ careers. All the topics were meant to help footballers develop their careers on and off the field,” said Ndlovu.
He said the programme will cascade to schools.