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ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube has urged his board to lead the way in undertaking austerity measures as the broke association grapples to secure funding necessary to drive football development programmes in the country. The board met at Zifa Village yesterday ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the assembly at the same venue today and a strategic planning seminar over the weekend.

Yesterday’s board meeting was expected to set the tone for the assembly meeting where the executive should finalise the appointments of various sub-committees that are tasked with helping in the administration of the game.

But Dube, who has been bankrolling Zifa’s operations, implored on his colleagues on the board to “adapt to the tough operating environment and ensure the association’s debt does not continue to balloon.

Today’s extraordinary meeting will also be the first indaba by the new assembly since the March 29 elections that saw a host of new faces come into office from the affiliates right through to the board. Dube, however, said the turnaround strategies they had could only come to fruition if the Zifa board and the assembly members walked as a united front.

“I implore board members to have unity of purpose and serve football first. We cannot afford to disappoint the electorate. We should also embrace austerity measures if we are to service the huge debt we have. We cannot afford to spend money we don’t have,” Dube said.

Zifa are under pressure to re-strategise and focus more attention on youth development that should if well handled breed a new generation of Warriors after a series of failures by the current crop of players.

There have been calls from within and outside football for Zifa to revive the national Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 teams using genuinely young players who are expected to do better than the classes that have failed to build on Zimbabwe’s qualification for the 2006 African Cup Nations in Egypt in 2006.

Since 2006, successive groups of Warriors have only managed to brew cocktails of failures on the Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying stages.

Dube told his board that history would judge them harshly if they did not stem the slide, unite and come up with viable programmes that breathe life into football.

“Tomorrow the family of football in Zimbabwe will be converging at the Zifa Village to transact football business. We should set the tone for growth of football beginning this weekend since we will spend Saturday and Sunday interrogating issues around our football landscape,’ Dube said.

“We need to manage our game strategically and it takes the board the assembly, the secretariat and stakeholders to make our game emerge out of its stagnation,

“We were in this building (Zifa Village) a month ago at the behest of Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture and we cannot afford the luxury of leaving our game to fate. We need to craft a four year road map which this board should walk with the support of the affiliate organs.

“We stand to be judged harshly by the generations to come if we don’t apply ourselves fully to turning around the fortunes of our game,” Dube said.

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa warned Zifa to clean up their image and come up with viable strategies to revive the game during a consultative indaba that his ministry arranged at the Zifa Village on June 19. Zifa, Langa said, needed to clean up their act or risk Government intervention to force the association to address the crisis that has trapped the national game in a quagmire.

Langa noted Government’s concern about the poor corporate image of Zifa which has resulted in negligible financial support being injected into the coffers of the association.

“Government has to date committed the largest amount of sport support to soccer, needless to say that it is the poor corporate image of Zifa that has kept away the largest source of funding from the public,” Langa said.

“You have to clean up Dr Dube and your board or you will risk government intervention,” Langa warned. The minister also bemoaned the lack of proper junior structures in the domestic game.

Dube said Zifa would use the their three-day marathon meetings to introspect on their failures and weak areas with the association’s boss also aware that the world would be watching whether their strategic seminar will not fizzle into nothing but just a talk shop devoid of vision and a commitment to implement action plans.

The Zifa president said the various standing committees, which are chaired by board members, needed to also incorporate members of the assembly but insisted that those councillors needed to be chosen on merit.

Some of the standing committees, such as high performance, referees, sports medicine, finance and legal are complex and in nature and require the right expertise apart from one being just a mere Zifa councillor.

Source : The Herald