It's now right time — Mutasa

HARARE - Lincoln Mutasa says he has reached an opportune moment in his life which paves way for his return to mainstream football administration.

The former Dynamos chairman will be going against Omega Sibanda for the post of Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) vice president at next month’s board elections.

Mutasa quit football administration in 1987 when he relinquished his DeMbare post in frustration over the bottlenecks and red tape derailing the game’s development in the post-independence Zimbabwe.

Mutasa, who in 1983 achieved the rare feat of playing and being chairman of Dynamos at the same time, decided to pursue his academic and business career in order to safeguard the interests of his young family.

Away from the officious life in football, Mutasa went on to establish his own engineering firm with interests locally and in Botswana.

On the family front, his children have grown into adults which he feels gives him ample time to rekindle his love for the game after a 19-year hiatus.

“The eureka moment really came when my children and sibling (Shingi Mutasa) all ganged up on me. They are the ones who really persuaded me. They said you have the time now go and enjoy your passion,” Mutasa, who is a qualified electrical engineer, told the Daily News.

“Part of the reason that I stopped in 1987 was that I felt there were a lot of things on my plate. There were a lot of these taxing authorities at the time; my family was still young and I thought it was better or more prudent for me to see my kids through university.

“They have all completed their education and are now working. My wife also recently achieved her number one goal of getting international accreditation for her organisation, so there is less stress for me.

Mutasa added: “My initial aim was to go for the post of board member development but what happened is that while I was in Europe, I got a phone call from my team here in Zimbabwe and they said after discussions it was better for me to go for the vice presidency.

“I didn’t have a problem with it because for me, all I want to do is contribute. This is no job for an individual; the task at hand requires all hands on deck and clearly what is gonna happen is that our first few meetings will determine the course we are going to take.

“Clearly, on the visions Zifa should be working on, it should not matter whether the idea comes from this board member, the vice president or the president.

“No one has the monopoly to knowledge. To me, once you are on the board then you can help with ideas. I feel whatever position I would get on the board, I will play my part.”

Mutasa insisted that he is running his campaign solo and has not aligned himself with any of the four presidential candidates; Philip Chiyangwa, James Takavada, Trevor Carelse-Juul or Leslie Gwindi.

“I’m coming in as an individual. I submitted my papers individually and I’m sure people have their own dream combinations of how they would like the actual outcome of the polls to be,” said Mutasa, who also holds an aerospace engineering degree.

“The primary concern from my understanding was that people thought that the president has to come from the Southern Region but I was assured that it has fallen away since we have four regions.

“But now as people get more familiar with the constitution it is shifting all the dynamics.”

In the event that he is elected into office on December 5, Mutasa says he will work with the new board to ensure Zifa’s $6 million debt is tackled immediately.

“What we need to do is try and normalise the ship in the sense that we need to rehabilitate the $6 million debt,” he said.

“Once that is tackled, I believe all we need to do is to ring-fence the debt in a separate entity; start on a clean sheet and demonstrate to the sponsors how transparent we are.

“We need to use that transparency to attract more sponsors; that’s in the short term. Also we need to start putting in place structures within Zifa and the whole country that will get us to achieve our goal.

“My goal is to see Zimbabwe playing at the World Cup; both the men’s and women’s teams consistently starting with 2022 and 2023.

“Once we address the debt situation I’m sure Zimbabwe’s impending ban from the 2022 World Cup will be taken care of.

“Growing up as a kid while playing football on the streets, our dream was to one day play at the World Cup. Of course, we didn’t make it to the World Cup then but I don’t think that some decades later that dream has changed.”

Player welfare is another aspect Mutasa wants the new Zifa leadership to address immediately.

“I’m a former player so I realise that the playing career is very short; probably 10 to 15 years.

“From the money you make, you have a lot of bills to pay; the game is their employer so they need to make a reasonable living to take care of their families.

“So, I will work to ensure that we quickly normalise the remuneration of the playing side. I would like to see the newspapers filled with stories about players and what the players are doing not the administrators.

“This is a business and the companies want to associate their brands with success. When I was still a player, most brands wanted to associate with football because most of the buyers are the youths, who love football.

“So they would buy a certain trousers just because they have seen Lincoln Mutasa, a Dynamos player, wearing the same trousers.

“Once we make players role models again, with them filling up the back pages of newspapers instead of the administrators, then our industry will develop.”

Mutasa said his passion to have former players living decent lives was the reason why whilst still at Dynamos he initiated the project for the Glamour Boys to buy their own piece of land in Waterfalls.

The purpose of the project was to construct a stadium, a club house and other offices but that dream never materialised.

He said embarking on that project opened up the eyes of other clubs who went on to establish their own structures.

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