Sugar Chagonda outlines vision

HARARE - Aspiring Zifa board member Sugar Chagonda wants to summon his experience in the corporate world to help change the face of local football if voted into office next month.

Attention for the Zifa elections set for December 1 has since shifted to the race for board member positions after incumbent president Philip Chiyangwa and his deputy Omega Sibanda are set to bounce back unopposed following disqualifications to Felton Kamambo and Gift Banda.

Chagonda, who is also the secretary-general for newly promoted Premiership side Manica Diamonds after just one year in Eastern Region Division One League, will go up against six other candidates who are also vying for posts in the Zifa board.

The other board aspirants are current Zifa treasurer Philimon Machana, businessman Chamu Chiwanza, former referee Brighton Malandule, broadcaster Barry Manandi and Central Region boss Stanley Chapeta.

Chagonda, who is now the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamonds Company (ZCDC) public relations and community development manager, says his decision to contest the Zifa board member position came after he was approached by Eastern Region councillors.

“When they approached (councillors) me to represent Eastern Region on Zifa board, they pointed out several things why they settled on my candidature,” Chagonda told the Daily News.

“I did not turn them down because I realised they have a lot of confidence in me as an individual.

"I respect them so much because they are working flat out to improve football standards in the Eastern Region, remember that’s where we sponsor the Diamond Super Cup.

“So I felt where they feel I can also contribute by way of investing my time and my administrative skills, I can’t reject that because it’s something which is good for the nation, I will be contributing at national level because personally I feel I have something that I can contribute.”

While he made his name as a newscaster and later on in the public relations arena, Chagonda used to be a formidable holding midfielder for Nyika United in the Eastern Region Division Two between 1994 and 95.

While his playing career only ended in the third tier league, Chagonda has gone on to harvest vast connections in the corporate sector.

He hopes to use this network to position football in the right areas and unlock sponsorships and endorsements if elected on December 1.   

“My involvement was mainly in the Eastern Region and also the fact that my career in football did not just end with playing in Division Two, but I have also been involved even in the corporate world," Chagonda said.

“These days, you cannot separate football from the corporate world because you need to marry the two.

“Our football needs a strong brand that will be able to attract sponsorship and corporate support. So I felt they believe that my involvement in the corporate world can add a lot of value to the brand they are trying to create through Zifa, so this explains why they approached me.”

Chagonda, who had a long stint as the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority spokesperson, wants to rebuild the soiled Zifa image if he wins the mandate next month.

“If I’m voted in, the first thing I would like to look at is the issue of brand. If we are to look at Zifa now there is a lot of negativity surrounding it,” he said.

“So my involvement in the corporate world, my understanding is that for a company to get any support there must be a good name.

This might be partially the reason why people are not supporting our football because of the brand which I can currently say is weak.

“It needs to be repositioned, so I think if I’m to get involved, I think I need to work with my colleagues to make sure that we create a brand that is trusted, liked and that can give people confidence and hope.

“Even the corporate world, right now if we look at issues to do with sponsorship, you find that our football has been struggling over the years to court corporate partners owing mainly to issues to do with perceptions.

“There is no trust so we need to create an entity that is trusted so that people will be able to give their money with confidence. We don’t want a Zifa that runs around with a begging bowl; it’s very disturbing and it creates a negative perception.”

Chagonda also wants Zifa to practice good corporate governance in order to restore the battered public image.

“Even the issue of corporate governance, I think it’s very critical,” he said. “We need to have serious corporate governance because people want to put their resources where they know how it is going to be used and there must be transparency.”

He also feels that Zifa has not done enough to secure government support t fund football activities.

“We cannot rule out that we need government support. There is need for lobbying and engagements,” Chagonda said.

“The world over, governments support their national teams and in our case, we need our government to support our football.

“Football is actually a huge business; it’s an industry with potential to employ a lot of people. There must be that trust and rapport with the government which is very crucial.”

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