Government snub plunges football further down

The Zimbabwe Football Trust is writhing in agony from a government brushoff in its bid to turn around the financial fortunes of the local game, but has set out on a mission to establish a hotel to help the most popular sport generate some desperately needed income.

Report by Kevin Mapasure

The government has declined to act as a guarantor for the Zimbabwe Football Trust in its bid to get a two-year loan facility with three local banks.

The Trust is mandated to help a debt-ridden Zifa, but they too have already fallen into liability due to the national teams’ commitments as Zifa continues to plunge further into the depths of despair.

The Trust’s chairman retired Colonel Tshinga Dube told IndependentSport that they had written to the Sports ministry requesting guarantees for a loan from three local banks.

The loan facility would have been used for other income generating projects. Sports minister David Coltart said his office had not received such a request.

Funds have been hard to come by for the Trust and the famed “Dollar for Football” project, which saw the organisation take its begging bowls to the fans for donations, got off to a slow start with the Trust raising US$200 only during the home match against Egypt.

“We were hoping that if we got that guarantee letter we would be able to get money from banks with arrangements of re-payment plan of two years,” said Dube. “Such an arrangement would have helped offset some of the pressure emanating from the Warriors fixtures. But the problem is that the relevant ministry has not even replied our letter. Under these circumstances we will continue to have the same problems that we had in the run up to the Guinea trip. We have no money. The Trust is in debt of around US$200 000 which we owe hotels, banks and travel agents. Some of the members used their own resources to pay hotel bills.”

To secure funds for the Warriors’ trip to Conakry, Dube said he had to provide title deeds to his properties to make the trip possible and avoid Fifa sanctions.Dube said under the circumstances the Warriors were operating, people should not expect good results and they should not blame Zifa because of government’s failure.

“We are always scrounging for basic things like air tickets while other teams are focusing on important things.

“We play against serious football nations with this kind of attitude and expect good results. It’s a miracle that we only lost 1-0 to Guinea. We blame the players and coaches but we fail to address real issues. If you want good performances you should pay. Other countries have a budget for sport. If we continue with this casual approach we will always be a laughing stock.”

But it is not all gloomy for the Trust as they move closer to clinching a deal that will see the construction of a hotel and Casino on a piece of land they acquired.

“We are talking to a company over a deal to construct a hotel on our piece of land, which would help generate some income for football. The advantage is its proximity to the airport . We have other ideas that we hope to implement but we need support.”

The Warriors yesterday had smooth travel arrangements when Zifa president Cuthbert Dube dug into his own coffers to finance a chartered plane to fly the team to Zambia for the Cosafa Cup.