Good riddance, but whither soccer?

 
With Darlington Majonga

THANK God the clowning board of a circus named the Sports and Recreation Commission has been fired, but regrettably Zimbabwean soccer is left in no better s

hape.


For a nation only plucked from the fringes of international soccer for “back-door” participation at the 2004 African Cup of Nations, this is but a painful plunge into the deep end of chaos.


The dismissal surely has regrettable ripple effects on soccer – the discipline cited as the main reason why the supreme sports body board had to be dissolved.


Not that Anthony Mandiwanza and his crew should have been spared. The guys had failed to stay on their toes and their mediation in disputes every time had usually resulted in more confusion if not chaos.


Barely a week after the Rafiq Khan-led Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board was chucked out of office, life can’t simply get better for the Warriors, whose maiden dabble at Africa’s premier soccer showcase early this year has failed to mask the woes that have bedevilled the game for years.


It could not have happened at any worse time as the Warriors start the defence of their regional Cosafa Castle Cup title against Swaziland on Sunday. And to imagine the quarterfinal clash at Somhlolo is sandwiched by crucial World Cup qualifiers is so sad.


Only this week the Warriors had threatened to boycott preparations for the Swaziland trip if their overdue bonuses and allowances were not settled.

There’s no doubt too the appointment of a substantive coach for the Warriors may be shelved for some time as the power feud at Zifa continues unabated.


Surely the uncertainty over whether Rahman Gumbo will continue or not as head coach does not bode well for a side too eager to prove their maiden trip to the Nations Cup finals was no fluke.


The Warriors don’t deserve this nonsense. And millions of Zimbabwean soccer lovers are fed up with it.


However, any right-thinking soccer follower may argue football in this country has been rudderless for over a decade and Zimbabweans were no doubt getting accustomed to the inefficiency and bungling at Zifa.


But enter the ousted Mandiwanza and his motley band of commissioners and the confusion in soccer administration escalates.


While it was unprecedented that Sports minister Aeneas Chigwedere dissolved the Mandiwanza board, the minister should now quickly move to overhaul the whole Sports Commission. For it seems whoever will take over will be equally inefficient unless proper operational procedures are laid down on top of appointing capable people.


Only yesterday, the Sports Commission had compounded the confusion at Zifa by reinstating Khan and his board when an interim board led by Leonard Nkala had already assumed the reins.


Now we don’t know who is in charge at Zifa, a development reminiscent to last year’s circus when both Vincent Pamire and Charles Westerfall claimed the chairmanship, while Edgar Rodgers and Ndumiso Gumede occupied the chief executive’s office at the same time.


However plausible the commission’s contention that the Zifa Council decision to fire Khan was unconstitutional, it is the supreme sports body’s failure to act expeditiously and decisively that’s getting it nailed left, right and centre.


No one is sure now who will lead the Premier Soccer League after polls that ushered in the Leslie Gwindi executive a fortnight ago were declared null and void by Khan but endorsed by Nkala.


It’s also the same commission that has failed to come up with lasting solutions to the Dynamos in-house wrangles – only this month firing but retaining the same culprits who have been at the core of chaos at the Harare giants.


The Sports Commission will also be remembered for dithering in the election of a substantive Zifa board last year, a development that even threatened to throw Zimbabwe’s maiden appearance at the African Cup of Nations into disarray.


Away from soccer, the recent cricket saga in which 15 rebel white players were fired after agreeing to disagree with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union quickly springs to mind when the inefficiencies of the commission are analysed.


Even a power struggle that raged for over four years in athletics could have been nipped in the bud had the Sports Commission expeditiously intervened.


But the Sports Commission’s inefficiency has been inevitably exposed by soccer, the beautiful game passionately followed by millions in this country.

One only hopes a new board will be quickly installed to normalise things at Zifa and in sport generally.


I hope men with spine and integrity will stand up and rescue sport, particularly soccer, from the morass into which some power-hungry administrators have cast it. dmajonga@yahoo.com

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