Manandi out to reshape Zim football

HARARE - With a huge wealth of experience in sports broadcasting, public relations, advertising and marketing, Barry Manandi feels he is now ripe to earn a seat on the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board.

Manandi is one of the six candidates vying for a place in the Zifa executive committee at the December 1 elections.

The other five aspirants are Philemon Machana, Sugar Chagonda, Chamu Chiwanza, Stanley Chapeta and Brighton Malandule.

Manandi is the managing director of leading advertising firm ColumbusDDB which has high-profile clients in the retail, mining, motoring, telecommunications, banking and health sectors.

He also sits on various boards of local, regional and international advertising organisations.

Manandi hopes to use his knowledge in marketing and public relations world to unlock the true value football holds.

“The Zifa brand needs urgent attention. Dollars are shy where there is no trust and in order for funds to come into our football, we need to begin the job of communicating what and who Zifa is, as well as what the association stands for,” he told the Daily News.

“There needs to be a robust re-engagement programme where we attract the corporate sector into football, particularly those that have been on the sidelines and have not been involved with football before.

“However, this can only be done, if we define football as a viable marketing property as addressed earlier.”

Manandi went into detail on how he believes his marketing experience can help football.

“We believe we bring a wealth of footballing knowledge, that is ably supported by a depth of marketing expertise,” said.

“I have been a marketing and PR practitioner for 20 years, and we run an internationally-affiliated marketing communications firm, experience that has led us into long-term relationships with various brands and corporates whom we believe should be getting involved in football.

“The reason they aren’t at the moment is that, football as a marketing asset has not been packaged nor quantified.

“This means that the return of marketing investment is not clear. In such a scenario, we are relegated to being classified as ‘social responsibility’, which as you know is a much smaller budget and usually does not have the same value proposition as a marketing asset.

"With the numbers of people involved in football, from playing, administering, working for, related to, or even as fans, there is no reason why there isn’t more corporate involvement in our game. We have five pillars that we would like to bring to football to support and improve our game, being — bringing more money into our game, modernisation and growth, devolution, strengthening our development structures and infrastructure upgrading and ownership.”

Manandi added: “We have a track record of being able to bring brands not previously involved with football into our game. Case in point, is the TM Pick n Pay Challenge Cup that we managed to organise and was the biggest, single game played in the country since independence in terms of prize-money, attendance by fans and organisation for the teams, who were treated to the five-star treatment, they deserve.

“We have also been at the centre of organising the Shield-Chelsea Talent Search that went into the highways and by-ways, looking for a boy who would have an experience at Chelsea Football Club in England.

We discovered a lot of talent and the eventual winner travelled to England and shared a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the ‘Blues’ of London.

“Notwithstanding this, many of the boys that participated in this programme are now attached to Premier League and Division One local clubs.”

While football fans have known Manandi from television or radio presenting sports programmes, what most do not know is that he has been an active football proprietor on the sidelines.

“Well in actual fact I have been a football administrator for some time and I have always loved this game, whether as a player, for various lower league teams, a fan of various teams all over the world, as a sportscaster, covering the game for over 15 years and now as an administrator, with Al Buraak Football Club in the Northern Region Division One,” he said.

“I have been co-owner and chairperson of this club since 2012, when we were in Division Three. Getting a team promoted through the ranks of league football to Division One, has not been easy but through the process, we have learnt a lot and it is these learnings and experiences that sparked the interest to get involved in national football administration.”

Last season while the team was still in Division Two, Manandi featured in at least five games for Al Buraak managing to score at least four times before work commitments forced him to stop playing.

Manandi has faced the harsh realities of financing a club in such a tough economic climate due to his involvement with Al Buraak and wants to use this experience to help the game at national level.

“Realising some of the funding challenges that teams and the leagues are facing, the inadequate infrastructure in which our game cannot improve and of course the lack of defined development structures, without which no footballing nation can prosper,” he said.

“These are some of the areas that we need to look at as a nation to ensure that our football begins to benchmark against global best practice, ensuring that wherever the game is played, whether at a Sunday afternoon social game or at elite performance professional level, all our structures should be fit for purpose.

“Of course, the final straw that convinced us we had to do this, was the chaos that obtained outside the stadium when our national team played the Democratic Republic of Congo recently.”

 

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