The 2011 edition of the Cosafa Women championships may have come and gone, but the legacy of the tournament will forever live in the accounts of women football in the country.
It was a historic moment for the host nation’s women football team, the Mighty Warriors, after they beat South Africa 1-0 in the finals courtesy of a Rufaro Machingura header five minutes from full time to wrest the title from Banyana Banyana who had kept it since its inauguration in 2002.
Zimbabwe were awarded the rights to host the regional tournament at the eleventh hour after initial host Reunion pulled out and sceptics had predicted a disaster.
However, it was yet another big milestone for the Mavis Gumbo-led executive as they managed to host the tournament at such short notice.
“It was a very successful tournament. In my opinion, this was the best organised Cosafa (tournament) since it started in 2002. We were given it on short notice, but we managed to make it. The coming in of Fifa boss Sepp Blatter who graced our match against Malawi was also a big honour for us. What a coincidence that we were staging women’s championships and he visited the country! It speaks volumes of the competition because at that moment we were under the world spotlight,” said Gumbo, the country’s women football chairperson.
Since the coming in of Gumbo into office last year when women football had literally died in the country, its fortunes have taken a drastic turn for the better.
The Mighty Warriors have since qualified for the All-Africa Games and have also been invited for a two-week training camp in Germany later this month in preparation for the finals to be held in Mozambique in September.
“It’s all about perseverance, hard work and knowing who to communicate with when the need arises. My strength is in the people, my connections in the government, but most importantly my boss Cuthbert Dube and the whole of my executive have been very supportive. The media has also played a big role in the success of the Mighty Warriors brand — they have been very supportive.
“When we started it was very difficult to convince the corporate world, but now they have realised that we are a good brand and they are starting to come forward. I have been receiving calls from different companies who want to help us. Now that we are a force to reckon, everyone wants to be associated with us. The response from the corporate world has been very encouraging,” said Gumbo.
She is expected to jet out of the country Wednesday to attend the fifth Fifa Women’s Football symposium in Frankfurt, Germany, which starts on Friday and ends on Sunday.