HARARE - While the intervention by government to bail out the Warriors ahead of their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) participation in Gabon is applauded, they still need to do more if we are to compete with the best on the continent.
With just a week left before the tournament begins, Warriors’ preparations looked wobbly until government chipped in with about $800 000 for the team’s campaign.
Afcon is the continent’s biggest football showcase and everyone — like in other countries — expected that the Warriors, especially after 10 years of underachieving, would receive the best support they deserved.
Instead, with the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) sitting on a $7 million debt, the Philip Chiyangwa-led executive had to be bailed out for accommodation by the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe after players turned down the offer to camp at the Zifa Village.
The association had also reportedly failed to raise $60 to book the National Sports Stadium for the team’s training session while star midfielder Marvelous Nakamba had to use personal resources to buy lunch for his teammates.
The association had done well to secure a $250 000 sponsorship package from mobile network provider NetOne two weeks ago, but strangely, it took ages to serve its purpose while the Zifa-player stand-off over their allowances raged on.
Despite the Warriors sealing their Afcon participation in June last year, government only came out of their shadows at the last minute with its package in order to paint themselves as “Messiah”.
Zimbabweans would want to know why government made last-minute overtures when they knew all along that the team was going to participate in Gabon?
The burden of sponsoring the Warriors lies not on Zifa alone. In fact it should be the government’s responsibility.
In serious sporting nations, governments give grants to sporting associations. However, in Zimbabwe organisations have to look for their own funding, which usually is an uphill task.
Defending champions Ivory Coast’s government approved a £5,1 million budget for the team’s campaign in Gabon, a £507 000 increase from the last finals in Equatorial Guinea two years ago.
Ivory Coast have the luxury of camping in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where they will face Sweden in a friendly tomorrow and will complete their warm-up with a game against Uganda, another Nations Cup-bound side, three days later.
While the Warriors are getting an $800 000 bail-out, the Ivorian national is getting five times more at £5,1 million.
Clearly, our government must do more not only for football but for all the sporting disciplines in the country.