Football, cricket failure reflect badly on SRC

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By Tawanda Tafirenyika

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Your Excellency, I wish to bring to your attention the fact that the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) seems to be doing little to ensure that sports associations are run professionally.

Over the years, football and cricket in particular, have been littered with allegations of corruption and power struggles which have often discouraged sponsorship it from the corporate world.

Your Excellency, to a casual observer, such problems often lie with the leadership of the game including those manning the SRC, which is the sports’ regulatory body in the country.

In cricket for instance, former captain Brendon Taylor was last week banned from all forms of cricket by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for three-and-a-half years after breaching the Anti-Corruption Code and the Anti-Doping Code.

This came barely a year after another former captain Heath Streak, the best bowler ever produced in the country, was handed an eight-year embargo for corruption.

Your Excellency, misdemeanours like match-fixing are a result of failure by the leaders of the game to reward players who entertain people across the globe.

The reactions to the sanctions imposed on two of the greatest cricket players to emerge in Zimbabwe suggest a leadership desperate to get rid of former players.

Your Excellency, in the latest episode involving  Taylor, ZC even suggested that there was a third force working to sabotage the local game.

“The modus operandi seems to suggest a well-orchestrated agenda to sabotage ZC, our game and what we stand for,” ZC claimed following the announcement of the ban on Taylor by ICC.

Yet these former players revealed that they were driven into illicit activities because the game’s leaders were not taking care of their welfare.

“I can’t deny I was a little wary. But the timing was such that we hadn’t been paid for six months by Zimbabwe cricket and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena,” Taylor said

A recent interview that Streak did with Cricinfo revealed that the technical staff “voluntarily gave up their salaries for more than a year leading to the (World Cup) qualifiers, in an attempt to mitigate against pay cuts for players”.

In response, ZC refuted the part about the technical team giving up their salaries and equated Streak to a rapist.

Your Excellency, it is against this background that we appeal to your government to ensure that those mandated to run sport in the country should have a sporting background so that they are not found wanting when it comes to delivery.

It is perhaps time to take stock of those in charge of sports associations to ensure the right people assume such important responsibility.

While SRC might have a genuine reason to intervene in the governance of football, the manner in which it handled the Zifa issue does not reflect good leadership.

With the Warriors having qualified for the African Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon, not a mean feat by any standards, it was perhaps time for all patriotic Zimbabweans to come together and rally behind the Warriors as they faced some of the best teams on the continent at the Afcon tournament currently underway in Cameroon.

The timing by SRC to intervene in the affairs of the national game left the nation pondering over the consequences of failure and the right path for the future after failing to go beyond the group stages of the tournament.

It is perhaps fair to say that the Warriors could have done better had it not been for the mudslinging between SRC and Zifa — the custodians of football in the country.

It is, therefore, critical for government to keep an eye on those running sport in the country.

Providing policy direction on the management of sport does not equate to interference in the running of  sports affairs.

It actually helps to strengthen its administration.