Things that hold us back

HARARE - If I had not been a journalist covering sports in Zimbabwe – or loved my country less – I swear I would have given up on Zimbabwean football two years ago in utter disgust frustration.

Following the completion of refurbishment work at the National Sports Stadium and subsequent reopening, someone on the Zifa secretariat excitedly announced to us that a media centre had been set up at the stadium.

Oh, how nice, finally a media centre for the football press corps! Now, journalists won’t have to dash back to the newsroom – traffic, tight deadlines and all – to write their match reports. 

Guys will now work during the match and file their articles from the stadium, via press box wi-fi, to their respective publications.

Now our own FA was beginning to see the light and moving with the times, belatedly catching up with peers like Zambia and Mozambique – I told myself.

Imagine my horror then when I later discovered that the “media centre” Zifa had excitedly announced was that little space behind the dug-out, that open area usually occupied by junior footballers who would have played curtain-raisers earlier in the afternoon.  

Made me want to pull out my hair out that a whole FA does not know what a media centre looks like, let alone understand that in this day and age you cannot do without one, moreso at your supposed premier stadium in the land.

And from such an association, I’m afraid, you don’t expect much in terms of ingenuity and tactical decisions such as choosing the right venue for an important international match.

It’s times like this you wish you had a stronger technical director at the FA, one with a better CV and exposure than Maxwell Takaendesa-Jongwe, one who would have advised the association that the National Sports Stadium is not a proper venue for Sunday’s make-or-break Afcon qualifier against Tanzania.

I never enjoy watching football at the National Sports Stadium. It’s just an eyesore. We need to outgrow that outmoded, ugly Chinese-built structure.  It’s okay for church crusades and gigs, not football.  

I’m aware of issues to do with the tuff at Rufaro, some players have condemned it, but the most logical thing would be to stage the Tanzania game there, or at Barfourfields, where the intimacy between the players and the fans is stronger and the atmosphere more electrifying.

Because they are smaller and the pitch is closer to the stands, these two grounds often create a hostile environment for visiting teams, which is just what you need for a match as Sunday’s, especially if the stadium is full as they surely would have been for the Taifa Stars clash.

But seeing that common sense is not so common with the custodians of our football, I just wish Ian Gorowa and his players defy the circumstances they see themselves in, abandoned by an administration that clearly lacks ability to make sound judgment.

C’mon Warriors, The dream is not dead!

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