Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA yesterday unveiled football equipment worth thousands of dollars to kickstart an ambitious development programme that will see women and junior football leagues sprouting all over the country from next year.
The association’s president, Felton Kamambo, yesterday said they used part of their development funds from FIFA to purchase football gear that includes training and playing kits, balls, bibs, cones, trophies, magnetic clipboards, gloves and medals.
The material is set to benefit all levels, from the established Premier Soccer League, Women’s Super League, lower divisions, beach soccer, youth football for both boys and girls, beach soccer and Futsal.
Kamambo yesterday said the face of domestic football will never be the same again once the projects start as they will provide reliable feeder schemes to the senior national teams in the next four years.
They will start with the Under-15 football leagues in the country’s provinces and regions next year.
ZIFA are borrowing from successful development models that have been applied by neighbouring countries, South Africa and Zambia, in the last few years.
Kamambo told reporters yesterday the initiatives are part of the recommendations they got after a tour of South Africa by the ZIFA board earlier this year.
“There have been concerns that we were lagging behind in as far as development is concerned,’’ said Kamambo.
‘‘On our targets, we also had the long-term, and one of them was to make sure that there is a structured youth football in Zimbabwe. We wanted to make sure that there is structured beach soccer played throughout the country, Futsal and women.
“I am sure you know that in terms of women football we only have the teams playing in the Super League. There was no football being played in the bulk of the areas in provinces.
“When we had our AGM we promised to buy some equipment and today the equipment is here. Like we said, each and every club will benefit, starting from the PSL, Division One, Division Two, women, youth, Futsal and Beach Football.’’
Kamambo said this was a game-changer for their programmes. “We are now going to have structured youth leagues in all the provinces,’’ he said.
‘‘For starters, we are going to have 10 clubs per province. We are going to launch these in regions.
‘‘We have some interim committees that will be running the youth league. Our first launch will be in the Eastern Region, on a date to be advised, most likely within the next two weeks.
“For beach football, we also want to start with 10 clubs per region. The same goes for Futsal, meaning to say after the launch, will then have 40 clubs participating in leagues throughout all our regions in beach and Futsal.
“Then, for women football, we are going to have 10 per region and for the girls 10 per province. What we have done for that is that we have bought enough equipment for all the teams that we are going to have.
“What we want is that when we say we have a national team, it is a true representation of the nation, not a representative of the PSL.
‘‘Whatever I have said today, like identifying gaps, these are some of the gaps that we have identified and these are the things that you need to judge us from. I am sure we have been in the office just for nine months now.’’
ZIFA are hoping to sustain the leagues using the funding from FIFA earmarked for development.
According to the blue-print, Kamambo and his board may not even be there to see the long-term results of investing in junior football.
But the ZIFA board said they had put in place a development template that would be use by those national football leaders who will even come after them.
“We are going to start off with the Under-15s next year. This means the coming next year we will have Under-17s for both boys and girls and then the third year we will have Under-19s.
“Since our term is just four years, we might not see the results but we have a template, we now have a national team policy, which I think, whoever, will be in the office then, will just take from the template.
“We want to keep them up to Under-19 together and then they will the start competing for the Under-20 and Under-23 national teams whilst the senior team takes part in the senior competitions.
“There are other competitions that we are no longer going to be using our senior national team where these guys will then fill in.
‘‘We borrowed this model from other institutions like Zambia and South Africa. We had a bench-marking trip in South Africa and we are now implementing,” said Kamambo.