HomeSportBelgian consultant eyes Zifa Village

Belgian consultant eyes Zifa Village

Itai Dzamara

BELGIAN sports consul-tant Euro ClubServices is negotiating with the Zimbabwe Football As-sociation (Zifa) for purchase of the Zifa Village in Mount Hampden. Zifa has failed to complete the proj

ect for the past three years, IndependentSport can reveal.

The Belgian firm which is spreading its tentacles on the local sports arena following a deal with premiership side Caps United wants to complete the Zifa Village and take it over.

Investigations by this paper revealed that lack of funding has stalled progress at the Zifa Village where construction work was last done in 2002.

IndependentSport visited and ascertained that construction was stopped in mid-2002. The site resembles an abandoned old farmhouse.

The housekeeper at the obsolete former farm house complained that Zifa had gone for several months without paying his full salary. He said: “Construction stopped in 2002 and there was nothing the whole of last year save for some clearing of one of the sports fields.”

Euro ClubServices, first introduced to the country by controversial fitness trainer Themba Mliswa with the intention of establishing a sports academy realised the incomplete Zifa Village’s potential to play a major role in its ambitions.

Highly-placed sources said the Zifa board was deeply divided over the proposal.

There was a furore towards the end of 2002 following revelations that under the leadership of then chairman Leo Mugabe, Zifa had abused US$62 000 granted by the Federation of International Football (Fifa) for the construction.

The revelation precipitated the exit of Mugabe. Euro ClubServices chief executive officer Gino Laureyssen confirmed his company had been in talks with Zifa and the Ministry of Education to complete the Zifa village.

“We have made positions and we are going to finalise next month. Euro ClubServices will complete the Zifa village,” he said.

Sources close to the manoeuvres said the sports firm had great plans for the Zifa Village.

“If the deal is finalised with Zifa quickly we will finish work at the Zifa Village and use it a club house for Caps United whilst at the same time generating income through hiring it out to national teams as well as other social and economic activities,” said a source this week.

The Belgian firm has gone as far as the Education, Sports and Culture minister Aenias Chegwedere who has conceded that Zifa had limited options since it has failed to complete the Zifa Village.

Zifa chief executive officer Edgar Rodgers yesterday confirmed the Belgian sports firm’s interest in the Zifa Village but said Zifa wouldn’t enter the deal.

“It’s a long story. They have made an offer but we can do it ourselves (finishing construction),” said Rodgers.

“They are not involved. We are completing the village hopefully by June. We have gone to tender for the construction of the village. We have got US$60 000 to finish the project.”

Zifa bought the plot in Mount Hampden some 20km north east of Harare City Centre in April 2000 after Fifa had granted permission for the project.

The international soc-cer governing body further allocated US$62 000 to Zifa in 2002 for construction work which the controversial Mugabe leadership at Zifa couldn’t account for.

A letter written to Zifa by Fifa’s development officer Ashford Mamelodi in October 2002 that is in the hands of this paper complained that the money was not “utilised for purposes it was intended”. Zifa claimed it had diverted the money to national teams’ commitments but the contentious issue nevertheless forced Mugabe out.

Zifa has been claiming progress was being made at the village over the past three years and making promises that have remained a pipe dream.

Then chief executive officer Cliff Mcllwaine and Zifa board member Frank Valdermarca led a media tour of the site in May 2002 and promised that construction “would be complete by June (of that year) and the village would be in use by August”.

Mcllwaine later resigned in frustration.

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