The more beautiful game

Whawha chairperson Musa Ntonga (centre) chats with team coach Lloyd Mutasa  (left) and his assistant Luke Petros after their win over Dynamos on Thursday

Whawha chairperson Musa Ntonga (centre) chats with team coach Lloyd Mutasa (left) and his assistant Luke Petros after their win over Dynamos on Thursday

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Sports Reporters

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MUSA NTONGA is the boss at Whawha Football Club and one can only underestimate her at their own peril.

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She gets to have the final say at the correctional services side as the leader of an executive that also comprises the all-male crew of Ruzvidzo Muchongwe (vice-chair), Jimiel Marecha (secretary-general), Malvern Paradza (vice-secretary) and Joel Masuku (treasurer). Titus Siziba, Kenneth Kamusoko and Edmore Jenero are the club’s committee members.

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The temptation would be to dismiss Ntonga as a politically correct figurehead. But a chat with the 39-year-old mother of two shows she is where she is because she deserves it. And she loves her club.

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“Sometimes she cries and refuses to eat when the team loses,” reveals Ntonga’s 19-year-old son Thamsanga.

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“She loves football so much and I support her because her love for the game does not make her a lesser mother to me and my 10-year-old sister. As her kids, we are proud of her because she is defying all the odds.”

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Ntonga is a proven sports administrator within the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and knows what she is worth.

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“It feels great to be the first woman to lead a Premiership side,” she says. “However, it’s also a challenge because some people are out to see how you perform. If you fail they will obviously say ‘what did you expect from a woman?’ And if you do well they will seek to direct the credit elsewhere.

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“I feel I am as competent as a man can be. Yes, football is male-dominated but that does not mean there is no room for women. I have made history by becoming the first woman chairperson of a Premiership team but to me that is not enough. A number of people believe that women cannot run football teams just like they used to believe that we could not have female pastors.

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“My mission is to prove these people wrong and inspire other women into football administration. Just watch this space.”

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A celebrated sportsperson who excelled in darts and volleyball as well as a netball coach, Ntonga was first appointed sports officer in 2004.

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Her duties saw her becoming heavily involved in the running of Ntabazinduna Football club, signing players and recruiting technical staff.

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She says she never missed any of the Southern Region Division One side’s matches during her two-year reign in Matebeleland.

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In 2006, she was transferred to Midlands Province and fell in love with Whawhwa FC.

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However, getting into the team’s ranks was not as easy as she thought, with her decision to contest for the chairperson’s post in February last year triggering some nasty and unorthodox shenanigans.

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Some club officials claimed she wasn’t eligible to run for the position because she had a “junior rank” in the ZPCS.

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They could not back their claims with the club constitution.

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Ntonga proved that the constitution made anyone with commissioned ranks eligible — and was a Chief Prison Officer.

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“I told them my rank was commissioned as required by the constitution and crafted a manifesto which was warmly welcomed by members. Two of the five candidates who had expressed interest in the post withdrew when the race got intense and there were only three of us left,” Ntonga recalls.

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On February 28, 2014 Ntonga collected all the votes on offer.

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The next polls are in 2018, allowing the Whawhwa chair to focus completely on running the club.

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Despite a challenging start to the season, Ntonga believes coach Lloyd Mutasa and his assistant Luke Petros will turn it around as the season unfolds.

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“Mutasa is experienced and has been there both locally and regionally. He is highly qualified and so is his assistant Luke, who got us promoted within just one season of joining us.

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“I am proud that I have quality and not quantity. It was always going to be difficult to adapt to the demands of the Premiership but I think we are slowly finding our footing and will achieve our goals this season,” she says.

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Her long-term goal?

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“I still want to go the extra mile and get to the higher levels of football administration. I want to be a leader at national level. Who said a woman cannot be a Zifa president? Women can do it too and I intend to prove it.”