Coltart could reverse gains made in cricket

HARARE - Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) managing director Wilfred Mukondiwa is a gentleman at the heart of a gentlemen’s game.

His firm commitment to cricket is never in doubt even in the face of stormy waters created by a directive from Education, Sports, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart which have torched a racial storm.

Mukondiwa believes the tempestuous issue is well within his grasp to handle because racism is just a peripheral matter which cannot stop him from taking the game to a new level.

Yet, he warns: “What we cannot deny is that however, well-intentioned, the directive is, firstly, it is constitutionally and legally flawed and, secondly, it will have consequences that could reverse the gains and developments made in cricket over the last two decades”.

Coltart’s directive scheduled to come into force next month (February) has drawn outrage and stinging criticism from the majority who believe that it’s a racist ploy intended to sideline black officials from holding positions of influence in the national team.

“All national sport associations whose national team selection is conducted by national selectors shall ensure that such selectors have the requisite experience and skills.

“In particular, no person shall be appointed as a selector unless they have represented Zimbabwe in the particular sport,” read part of the measures.

But, in a dramatic turn of events, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), whose silence had been touching when the race row erupted, prompting an ugly exchange of expletives between Coltart and the cricket fraternity, has amended the contentious clauses.

The ZC board contends the amendments are still of no effect and illegal because there has been no board (SRC) resolution endorsing them.

Part of the watered down amendments read: “Not less than fifty percent (50 percent) of the selectors shall have represented Zimbabwe as athletes / players at the senior level in the particular sport discipline provided that all chairpersons / convenors shall be former national team players/athletes.

Those who have witnessed a revolution in this sport suspect Coltart wants to reverse the gains made in cricket whose mass participation today is a reflection of Zimbabwe’s population demographics in that sport.

“One of the major goals of ZC is to offer equal opportunities to all in cricket and spread the game. The sustainability of any activity in any country is dependent on the involvement of the indigenous majority. This has been achieved in Zimbabwean cricket.

“It must be noted here that ZC shares the national interest and desire to see an improvement in the performance of our national teams. Our stance on improving and developing the game is that policies should be long term and sustainable.

“The focus now is on improving the quality of all facets of the game at all levels. Through the franchise system launched in 2009, we have spread cricket to all corners of Zimbabwe. There are now over 100 young men, black and white, who can be classified as professional full-time cricketers — an increase by almost 80 percent,” Mukondiwa, who has been with the ZC for a decade, told the Daily News this week.

Mukondiwa left his job at the University of Zimbabwe where he was Registrar in 2003 to join the ZC during the World Cup in South Africa. It was baptism of fire for him as white Zimbabwean cricketers, allegedly taking instructions from Coltart, wore black armbands to protest against the “death of democracy in Zimbabwe”.

This was interpreted to mean the takeover of vast tracts of land once held by minority farmers and the takeover of cricket by black administrators who wanted to re-align the game to reflect the population demographics on Zimbabwe in that sport.

Mukondiwa said the cricket revolution has borne fruits as evidenced by the spread of the game and participation. He said cricket now offers viable career options for many people either as players, administrators, technical or support staff, reiterating ZC’s education and awareness programmes have resulted in mass appreciation of the game.

Critics of the Peter Chingoka-led board have savaged the ZC for “running down” the game resulting in voluntary withdrawal from Test cricket on the back of poor performances.

But the ZC board and advocates of the revolution argued that the benefits would be felt long term and promised “we will be vindicated at the fullness of time”.  

Mukondiwa said his vision was to make sure Zimbabwe returns to the golden era of the former Test playing sides.

“Development is not an event but a process, and we still have a long way to go to achieve our vision to be a successful performer in the global sports and entertainment industry.

“The playing of cricket is our core business and we are bullish about the 2013/2014 season that lies ahead.  2013 will be a very busy year for the senior men’s national team, with one outgoing and four incoming tours, India being one of these. An incoming and outgoing tour will also be arranged for the Zimbabwe ‘A’ team.

“The development programme will consist of school leagues, school festivals and tournaments, inter-franchise age group tournaments, trials, coaching camps and national age group tours.

“A lot of focus will be put on the national Under 19 Team as they prepare for the ICC Under  19 Cricket World Cup to be held in Dubai in 2014. The programme for women’s cricket will comprise school leagues and tournaments, club leagues, an inter-franchise tournament, international tours and participation in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers to be held in Ireland in August 2013,” Mukondiwa told the Daily News.

He revealed that since taking over from Ozius Bvute, he had spent the better part of 2012 crystallising the ZC’s short to medium term visions which pinned on three Cs — Consolidation, Commitment and Competitiveness. “As ZC we want to consolidate the gains and progress we have made in the last decade especially in the area of spreading the game and making it accessible to all Zimbabweans.

For consolidation to take place in such a challenging operating environment, we need people who are 100 percent committed to the vision.

But to achieve its goals, the ZC chief is looking to increasing revenue generation as he bids to keep alive cricket, schools cricket and facility maintenance.

These have been affected by the harsh liquidity environment currently prevailing in the market.

“Much has been reported about the current financial situation at ZC and often only half the story is told.
 In the past, the nature of our business was such that even after fulfilling our responsibilities toward the national team, age-group teams and development projects, we remained in a surplus.”

“The franchise system introduced in 2009 resulted in the development budget ballooning to incorporate five professionally run franchises across the country; each of which required new administrative and structural investment.”

“What was clear was that cricket could no longer be run on the old business model and we needed to restructure our financing in order to launch and run the franchise system. We are therefore sustaining the franchise system using debt financing and will continue to do so over the two to three years.”

“We were very clear from the onset of the effect this would have on our balance sheet but for us, the long-term effect the franchise system would have on the performance of the national team by far outweighed the temporary cash flow challenges we would encounter.”

“We are confident that the franchise system will be able to sustain itself and we are starting to simultaneously reduce our funding to them as they achieve self-sustenance. At the conclusion of this period you will see us returning to surplus as the demands on the finances from the mother body will have reduced.”

For the record — we are confident in the gamble we have taken. It is in the national interest.

“Our revenue generation is based largely on incoming tours and through the hosting of four tours this year, we will be able to activate the revenue streams associated with broadcasting rights, title sponsorships, gate takings and other event-generated subsidiary incomes.

“We continue to rely on the support of the local corporate community to develop and sustain the domestic game and I am pleased to have seen many of our partners renewing their commitments with us,” said Mukondiwa.

Comments (1)

Not a very smart move, Mr. Coltart. Sadly, this is very bad for the many sincere white folks here who are trying to make things work and help build the country.

ScottM - 31 January 2013

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