'Give footballers a chance'


HARARE - Aspiring Zifa president James Takavada believes an ex-footballer should lead the country’s football association to revive the sport from the quagmire of financial debt and damaged reputation. 

The former Ziscosteel stalwart, who was crowned Soccer Star in 1984, is one of the four candidates vying to replace Cuthbert Dube as Zifa president in this weekend’s elections.

Takavada will battle against Philip Chiyangwa, Leslie Gwindi and former association chairman Trevor Carelse-Juul.

Speaking at his manifesto launch yesterday in the capital, Takavada said allowing people without football backgrounds has been the country’s biggest undoing.

“If you want to be the manager of a profession you have to know what to do, but it’s unfortunate that in Zimbabwe things are not happening that way,” Takavada said.

“People have this idea of thinking that football is about everybody who can come in and go but when it comes to other professions — engineering, accounting, lawyers, journalism — we rarely give those without knowledge a job.

“But when it comes to football we are not doing that. And if I may go back to history, people who were running football before independence and shortly after, were people who had played football, coached football, administered football and we never had such problems we are having now.

“If you go back to (Nelson) Chirwa’s time things were okay but after he had left, we had businesspeople coming in and I want you to take note of this because it’s very important.

“I am not saying businesspeople should not come into football, not necessarily that. I am saying there are people who are coming from outside football basically with the notion that they have business acumen to bring to football. One thing that we forgot is that there is professionalism that is needed.

Takavada, who was Warriors assistant coach to Clemens Westerhof and Wislaw Grabowski in the late 90s, added: “But when we had former players before like (John) Madzima, Chirwa and company things were okay.

“But after that when we allowed businesspeople to come in, we forgot that when you are an engineer you manage engineering and we have generalised that in football.

“We have said if you are a businessman just come in and lead football and that was the biggest mistake we have ever made. And I am here to try and correct the notion that not anyone should come and lead our football.

“I believe we can get a former player, a former coach, a former administrator in football who has seen it right from the grassroots. I am not only talking about the top post but how did you get up there.”

Takavada said local football is struggling because junior development programmes have been abandoned.

“People are talking about me James Takavada, Stix Mtizwa but they are not talking about who has taught him football when he was young. Do these people who we bring forward know where players come from?” he said.

“Football went down drastically simply because the know-how of bringing up a youngster was missing. You watch our youngsters today and you find they can’t control the ball, they can’t do the basics — a sharp contrast during our time.

“During our time, you would not have the chance to play if you didn’t have those qualities and that’s why people were coming in to watch football in their thousands. Today, there are no stars to talk about, we still talk about Stix, (Moses) Chunga but not about who can fit in those boots.

“And the reason is that we are putting the wrong people at the top. We have different agendas at the top. And I am saying I am coming from the trenches, I have been there, I have done that and now want to right things.

“I am asking the councillors to vote for me. Most of these guys have been given their chance and I am saying I should be given a chance to prove myself. It’s only two years to allow former footballers to prove themselves

“If we fail you will say we have failed but for now give us a chance. Don’t judge us before we have been given a chance to prove ourselves. That’s my request, give us a chance.”

Comments (1)

I may not be following Zimbabwean football as much anymore in large part due to the current "rot" at ZIFA and James's Manifesto launch speech speaks to this problem. I am very pleasantly surprised by his maturity, and measured tone. We need people who know something about football to run it. As much as we need professionals in all other sectors of the economy like miners, engineers etc not soldiers.

tino16 - 2 December 2015

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