FUNGAI Zinatsa is not a name known to many. She is one of those behind-the-scenes sports administrators who work at the office, leaving the elected be-suited bureaucrats to be the public face of the associations.
Sports Panorama: Enock Muchinjo
Zinatsa has previously worked for Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), where she quietly went about her business as a marketing staffer of the country’s cricket governing body. Few years back, a company Zinatsa worked for organised a once-off challenge match between local football giants Dynamos and Highlanders, in which she had a minor role.
Yesterday, though, she drew some limelight to herself, albeit in a manner that has dismayed many, and further exposed the despicable attitude of administrators in Zimbabwe towards the very athletes they purport to protect.
Bulawayo-based Chronicle yesterday carried a story of a young female footballer who missed Zimbabwe’s trip to Botswana this week for the African Union Council Five Under-20 Youth Games, which started in Gaborone yesterday.
The player, Beauty Mukara — who is said to be inconsolable — did not make the trip to Gaborone on Tuesday because no one bothered to notify her of her selection into the team.
And after being taken to task by the paper’s reporter, Zinatsa — the Zimbabwe team’s head of marketing — laid blame squarely at the feet of Mukara herself.
So what was the poor girl supposed to do, according to Zinatsa?
Well, she did not need to be informed of her selection. The media published the list of the travelling squad. Upon seeing her name in the newspaper — which quite clearly she did not — Mukara was supposed to “call team management to inquire about the camping itinerary” for the Botswana trip.
“So she wanted us to call her?” a clearly annoyed Zinatsa is quoted as saying in the article. “She could have called to check as well, but nonetheless it was unfortunate.”
This is incredible, and I bet you are not going to hear something more absurd than this from a supposed administrator and senior member of team management.
But it sums up the calibre of the so-called sports officials we have in this country.
And this comes just days after a candidate on the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board election, Barry Manandi, withdrew from the race and poured scorn on how he learnt of his successful nomination via a social media post.
The same Zifa that — engrossed in its fight with coach Callisto Pasuwa three years ago — rushed to the newspapers to announce Joey Antipas’ appointment, completely without his knowledge of the offer.
But back to Beauty Makara’s story.
She must be feeling a sense of great loss right now. But maybe she must not, if this is the kind of arrogant attitude those “lucky” to be in Botswana will be subjected to.
This is no matter to be ignored. Too often it is swept under the carpet in this country.
A red flag must be raised over the welfare and treatment of those young athletes, many of whom are girls vulnerable to abuse.