IndependentSport View with Darlington Majonga
MAVERICK, enigmatic and charismatic at the same time is one political turncoat christened Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo who many Zimbabweans love
A sharp-tongued and robust orator, Moyo has over the years dramatically changed from one of President Robert Mugabe’s harshest critics to his staunchest defender before reverting to the dear leader’s nemesis again.
Professor Moyo gained notoriety for championing the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, while he also managed to lift propaganda to unprecedented levels with his habitually scatological defence of Zanu PF’s policies that almost cost Mugabe the presidency.
However, for all his unsavoury reputation, it seems many still found some of J-Mo’s works irresistible. That’s why ZBC still plays Moyo’s jingle Go Warriors, while PaxAfro’s songs are still played endlessly on national radio.
Away from politics, there is one great idea Moyo propagated that most of us greeted with scorn simply because it was the brainchild of a “hated” politician – the Warriors Trust!
The Warriors Trust was formed after the then Vincent Pamire-led Zifa executive had bungled Zimbabwe’s 2004 Nations Cup qualifying trip to Mali in July 2003. From then onwards, the Trust always came to the rescue of the Warriors.
While the Warriors Trust ensured that Zimbabwe were well-catered for during their maiden African Nations Cup finals in Tunisia last year, we still did not trust the political hand dabbling in the affairs of the national team.
The Trust had promised the Warriors US$10 000 per each player had they beaten Egypt in their debut match at the Tunisia finals but Zimbabwe unfortunately lost 1-2. The Trust however fulfilled its pledge when it paid the players US$3 000 each after they upset Algeria 2-1.
Being the same Warriors Trust that denied journalists from papers deemed anti-government seats on the plane that had been chartered for the big trip to Tunisia, we still viewed the Trust with scepticism, as we feared Zanu PF wanted to extend its hegemony to the people’s sport.
But following events this week, it seems Moyo’s idea – objectively speaking – was not so bad after all. Politics aside, his idea was the way to go.
Warriors hitman Benjani Mwaruwari this week offered to bankroll a two-week training camp for the national team in France just before the Nations Cup finals in Egypt next January.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) was this week yet to accept the offer that would see Mwaruwari taking care of accommodation, meals and training facilities and arranging friendly games with “credible opposition”.
The Auxerre striker hopes the Warriors might have a chance to meet the likes of Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea who are likely to camp in France as well because the bulk of their players are based there.
There is also every possibility of engaging top French Ligue 1 sides.
Zifa will only have to foot airfares for the players and technical team and leave everything to Mwaruwari.
This is too tempting an offer the perennially cash-squeezed Zifa would find hard to turn down. With barely four months before the biennial Nations Cup finals kick off in Cairo, this offer is no doubt a godsend for the Warriors.
While some players were so desperate to make the squad for the Tunisia finals that they allegedly bought some members of the technical team DVD players and other electrical gadgets to bribe their way into the team, Mwaruwari’s move is clearly not sinister in any way. Mwaruwari is one player who would literally walk into any team on the continent.
The star striker, who recently donated blankets worth millions to old people in Bulawayo, deserves our appreciation for his charitable deeds.
George Weah, who is now eyeing Liberia’s presidency, was as famous for his charity as he was for his footballing prowess when it came to his national team. Weah would fund airfares, accommodation and allowances for the Lone Stars.
Earlier this month, Barcelona star Samuel Etoo dangled US$2 000 per player to his Cameroon compatriots if they beat Ivory Coast – which they did.
So Mwaruwari is not short of contemporaries in this commitment business.
While Zifa chefs rub their hands with glee at the good news coming from France, are they not ashamed that up to this day they had not achieved anything tangible in as far as preparing the Warriors for the Nations Cup finals?
It’s exactly a year since Zifa terminated its marriage with Moyo’s Warriors’ Trust. But regrettably, we haven’t seen anything since Zifa chairman Rafiq Khan promised a new trust would immediately be formed. If a new Warriors Trust was indeed formed, we are afraid we haven’t seen any proof of its existence, if not relevance.
This idea of waiting for handouts does not bode well for a country eager to prove its significance on the international scene.
Over the years Zifa has failed dismally to attract meaningful sponsorship for the national teams, resorting to last-minute scrounging or government bailouts just before international assignments.
As long as we have people who are not interested in being taken seriously as administrators, the Warriors brand will never become as attractive as it should be to prospective sponsors,
It’s little wonder that as long as administrators make it their core business to fight against each other at the expense of football, key products will remain allergic to football sponsorship.
We all appreciate that with the tough economic situation prevailing in Zimbabwe, many corporates have little to spare for sport.
But the main reason sponsors are shying away from football is simply because we have greedy and selfish people in Zifa just for power, not football.
Secondly, the football association does not have a plausible policy on sponsorship, while a system to build and manage relations with sponsors is something Khan and his band of sycophantic administrators have never heard about.
Sponsorship this age is a business whereby both the sponsor and the sponsored have to benefit. In the past sponsorship was lopsided, with the sponsor being seen as a donor.
That’s the biggest challenge administrators have – to disabuse themselves of the belief that a sponsor just has to pump in money without getting any mileage. It’s now a win-win scenario.
The Warriors brand needs serious marketing, and we should desist from taking out our begging bowls all the time.
Well, so J-Mo was not wrong after all. Anyway, thanks Benjy for your kindness and commitment.