THE senior national women football team returned to full training yesterday after a brief boycott on Tuesday ahead of the crucial second leg of the African Women Championships (ACW) final round qualifier in Zambia this Sunday.
The players refused to have their afternoon training session on Tuesday in protest over allowances and poor living conditions at Zifa Village where they are camped.
A player source told NewsDay Sport that the players surrendered their training gear after the morning training session, threatened to abandon camp and return to their homes.
The source said the situation only returned to normalcy after a meeting with Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze and the association’s board member for development Fungai Chihuri held at the village on Tuesday evening.
“Things were deteriorating everyday and we couldn’t take it anymore,” said a player. “Can you imagine we haven’t been paid our allowances for the matches we played against Botswana in February and for the friendly match against South Africa last month? As if that is not enough, the living conditions are deteriorating. We are being given sadza with vegetables, cabbages and sometimes lacto.
We are struggling to get basic sanitary things like tissue, and to imagine that we are national team players, seriously?” the player quizzed rhetorically.
Zimbabwe are trailing the tie 1-0 and the winner of the Sunday match to be played at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka will qualify for the ACW finals in Namibia this October. The ACW finals is the women version of the men’s Africa Cup of Nations.
“We have a very important tie to prepare, but we are not being treated well. We called off the strike on a promise that they will give us some money before the Zambia match and we are just hoping they will deliver this time around. As players we have done well for the country and we are ready to fight for the nation even in this match and we know we can overturn the scoreline, but I think we have been getting a raw deal in return,” said another player.
This is not the first time the Mighty Warriors have complained of terrible living conditions in camp and their allowances.
After the Botswana match, they had a sit-in at Zifa Village demanding an improvement to their welfare.
Images of the players having sadza and a small portion of boiled matemba for their lunch were leaked to the media as the crisis that had gripped the team’s camp came to light.
Coach Rosemary Mugadza, who missed the first leg due to a family bereavement, refused to comment on the crisis that hit her camp this week, but instead chose to focus on the job at hand.
Yesterday, she named her final 18 travelling squad, and immediately declared that her team will “definitely” qualify for the ACW finals.
Regular and influential player Ruvimbo Mutyavaviri was the major exclusion from the travelling squad after she failed to recover from the injury she picked in the first leg.
The left-back only lasted just over 20 minutes in the match and the team’s medical team have said she needs at least eight weeks to fully recover.
“It’s very possible to qualify for the AWC finals, but we can only do that if we go there and play with the right attitude,” said Mugadza yesterday.
“The players are eager to participate and turn the tables. I have told the girls to play for Ruvimbo, she has been an integral part of this campaign and she would also want to play in the finals. We have to do it for her, for ourselves and for the nation at large and I know it’s very possible,” she added.
Mighty Warriors travelling squad:
C Dzingirai, L Magwede, R Jongondi, N Majika, N Ndlovu, P Mujuru, M Musasa, T Mandaza, E Msipa, R Kamupfumvuti, B Kabwe, M Nyaumwe, R Neshamba, K Bhasopo, R Makore, M Chirandu, F Muzongondi, P Khumalo.