UNITY IS STRENGTHPetros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
IN rare echo from the discordant ZIFA board, the association’s vice-president Omega Sibanda has thrown his weight behind his boss Cuthbert Dube and rallied the soccer mother body’s members to bury their differences and end the crisis rocking the beleaguered institution.

Sibanda has been fingered as one of the major players in a divided board in which he has been accused of being one of the main dissenting voices together with Women’s Soccer League boss Miriam Sibanda and board member finance Bernard Gwarada.

The ZIFA number two man, however, disputed the allegations yesterday and reckoned that their extraordinary assembly meeting in the capital last Friday had laid the platform for the game’s leadership to unite and turn on a new leaf for the broke association.

Sibanda hailed the resolutions that had been made from the assembly meeting and noted that “gossip, rumour mongering’’ had been the ZIFA administration’s biggest undoing, which had resulted in meaningful development of the game being stalled.

Despite ZIFA facing a plethora of problems that are seemingly endless with the Messenger of Court being a regular visitor at the association’s headquarters, Sibanda claimed there was light at the end of the tunnel “if we can only build and implement what was agreed on at the extraordinary general meeting’’.

“In my time in football, this was one of the best and most vibrant meetings I have attended.

“It was an EGM where the president read his speech and emphasised the need for unity of purpose and he said people may have differences of opinion but that does not mean they are enemies of football.

“He emphasised the need for people to work in harmony and pledged that his company Buymore Investments would help affiliates with grants in April to assist in the running of the game.

“The assembly was made aware of the challenges which we are facing and there was frank and honest debate with answers also being provided to the frank questions that were being raised.

“FIFA FAP funds are also coming and women football will be assisted and I must say the president emphasised a lot on the need to give equal assistance and attention to women’s football.

“The board should be united for the good of football and I am happy that at the end of the day the assembly unanimously reiterated their support for the president and the board,’’ Sibanda said.

Sibanda said the ZIFA assembly would during next month’s annual indaba, get a chance to evaluate whether they had begun implementing the resolutions they came up with during the extraordinary meeting.

“Personally, I think it was a wonderful EGM because it was full of frank talk, people made their views known and were answered.

“With all the honest talk that was there, we can only build from this meeting because we really have to unite to pull and develop our game from the problems that we have. Our strength lies in our unity.

“Issues of gossip and rumours were discussed and that has to stop. I think if we can manage to stop gossip we can develop our football, so those peddling gossip just have to stop it and there are plenty of them.

“I want to encourage peace and reconciliation in football, there is a lot of room for progress and we can surely become stronger again, we have one president in ZIFA and we should all rally behind the man,’’ Sibanda said.

The ZIFA vice-president also spoke about the Lifelong Footballers Trust of Zimbabwe fronted by Francis Zimunya, Paddington Japajapa and Chris Sambo and suggested that they should approach the association’s leadership with their concerns on the game instead of taking a confrontational stance.

“They are former administrators, they should know better that they should approach us through the normal channels if they have an input to make.

“They should respect the leadership that is there and not to try and run a parallel structure because if they do that we will not have time for them’’.

Sibanda also said ZIFA members should work harder to assist the national Under-23 side and the women’s team, the Mighty Warriors in their forthcoming African Under-23 and All-Africa Games assignments.

“We have a mandate to ensure that our national teams are supported for their international assignments and all that can only be achieved if we are united’’.

The ZIFA assembly, Sibanda said, had finally dumped the archaic 1996 rules and regulations that were being used to govern the domestic game and revealed that the amended statutes would become effective from this season.

Although Sibanda took a conciliatory tone and perched togetherness, the unity of the ZIFA board will continue to come under the spotlight as the association’s leadership battles to overcome a myriad of challenges the football body is facing on a daily basis.

Only on Monday, the national game endured another forgettable day when ZIFA property worth thousands of dollars including an artificial turf donated by FIFA and which had been laid on a field at the ZIFA Village was auctioned.

The sale of property is meant to pay for the $88 000 that was awarded to former ZIFA communications manager Nicky Dhlamini-Moyo after she successfully challenged the manner in which she was dismissed from the association.

The sale of the artificial turf comes as ZIFA continue to try to engage their creditors and salvage the association’s s properties that are still to be attached but remain under serious threat of being auctioned by the Deputy Sheriff.