THE history-making Mighty Warriors are finally getting rewards for their recent successes, which saw them qualifying for both the Summer Olympics and the Women Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The Shadreck Mlauzi-coached side beat Zambia 3-2 in the final round second leg match in Lusaka on Sunday for a 4-2 aggregate victory to progress to the Afcon finals to be hosted in Cameroon in November.
It was their second major achievement within six months after their historic qualification to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August.
And after toiling for long periods, their contribution was finally recognised when Sport minister Makhosini Hlongwane announced that 30 residential stands have been set aside for the team.
“As government, we have decided that in the absence of cash, given the constraints within our fiscal space, we are going to go kind. And I can announce that we have put together, here in Harare, 30 residential stands for the Mighty Warriors,” he said, at a welcome dinner for the team on Monday night.
“(Philip) Chiyangwa, the Zifa president, is going to take over and I have already alluded to him what needs to be done, so during the course of the week each one of you is shown their stand.”
The stands will be welcomed by the ladies, who achieved greatly, despite being treated with a disdain and operating under extremely difficult conditions.
“Watching these girls play, you see a brilliant spirit, the commitment to a national duty, a genuine spirit to deliver for one’s country and a people mobilised to deliver success for the nation. As a country, we have not been fair to these girls all of us collectively — the sport sector, the government and the corporate world,” Hlongwane said.
“We have not done enough to make sure the girl child is supported, but the girls have continued to vindicate why they are on the field of play with indisputable performances that deliver success and that should help us change our attitude.”
After the Mighty Warriors made history by becoming the first football team to qualify for the Olympic Games since independence, a lot of promises were made to the team, including cash rewards as well as training camps overseas, but nothing has been delivered.
They are still owed over $2 000 each by Zifa in allowances and winning bonuses.
Hlongwane said Zifa should communicate in the next few days the immediate commencement of camp in preparation for the two tournaments.
Chiyangwa gave a congratulatory speech to the girls on the night and revealed his association had engaged a corporate partner, believed to be NetOne, to help the team and other national squads.
Chiyangwa announced that businessman and socialite, Wicknell Chivayo, who claimed to have severed ties with Zifa, following a brush with the media last week, was still the association’s benefactor.
“Chivayo is not gone yet, I can confirm that he is still with us. I know he had a disagreement with the media, but we have to appreciate his contribution to a national cause. This is the first time since 1980 that somebody has come forward to give Zifa that much money in a short space of time,” he said.
“In fact, we will not be competing in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers if Chivayo had not paid the $185 000 owed to former Warriors coach Tom Saintfiet. Where have you ever had anybody come forward to say here is $60 000, here is $40 000 give it to the player, so it’s only fair to appreciate him.”