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Comment: Zifa must lead by example

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With the Premiership season having come to an end on Sunday-Motor Action-were crowned kings-it’s time for the leadership to reflect on yet another sponsorship less contest.

Way back in 2006, Highlanders claimed the league championship but were not rewarded for their efforts.

Luckily for Highlanders, they are a big club and averaged 15 000 fans per home game, meaning they were watched by more than 225 000 fans that season at home.

For the Mighty Bulls, just like Highlanders, it’s a symbolic championship that rewards their hardworking owner Eric Rosen, but one that reflects badly on the leadership of the Twine Phiri-led Premier Soccer League board of governors.

The league has failed to realise a fundamental fact that sponsorship alone cannot run clubs, but television rights can, definitely.

On November 15, Supersport International and the Zambian Premier League agreed a three year $2,5 million deal to screen live matches, which guarantees grants to clubs while mobile telecommunications giant MTN will be the league’s official sponsor next season.

In Kenya, the league and Supersport signed a four year $13,5 million deal in 2008 which was due to expire at the end of next season, but was renewed in July and will now expire in 2015, adding $11 million to their coffers and those of clubs.

This is where focus should be. Fine, there is only one broadcaster in the country which is more concerned about other things than business but seriously when this issue is presented in a business manner, somebody should see sense.

Perhaps, the problem is with administration.
Above the, PSL, there is another creature the Zimbabwe Football Association that has made headlines this whole year, all for the wrong reasons – ranging from Asiagate to the botched up appointment of Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet.

While the Asiagate investigation was a noble idea it is the recovery of the local game that is far more important than anything else.

The little resources available must be channeled towards the development of youth football that brought about the likes of Peter Ndlovu.

It is high time Zifa stops the grand standing about Asiagate and grapple with real bread and butter issues like appointing a substantive coach for the senior men’s team.

Never again should the Saintfiet debacle be repeated. Saintfiet was denied the chance to coach the Warriors after Zifa allowed him to assume work without the requisite work permit.

The Belgian’s efforts to get the papers were scuttled after the Department of Immigration twice turned down as Zifa board members sent contesting signals about Sainfiet’s appointment.

It is high time Zifa president Cuthbert Dube digs in as a leader and cease being indecisive about important issues.

An organized Zifa will certainly inspire the affiliates to follow suit. The reason why the PSL and other affiliate are struggling to attract sponsorship is as a result of poor image that bedevils Zifa.

Everyone wants to be associated with a good brand and as we approach 2011, we hope the authorities at Zifa will have their priorities right and start using football as a vehicle to secure massive sponsorship.

Zifa must lead by example.

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