FOUNDING Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League (ZWSL) chairperson and former Zifa board member Susan Chibizhe has urged incoming women’s football boss Miriam Sibanda to work together with her predecessor Mavis Gumbo.
Sibanda beat Gumbo 22-20 in an election held last weekend.
Chibizhe, who was involved in women’s football for 10years before her suspension in 2004 said she regrets that there was no proper handover-takeover when she was booted out of office.
“People should not make the same mistake that was made when I was suspended as the ZWSL chairperson. People who came after me did not know the plans we had in place,” Chibizhe in a wide ranging interview with our sister paper StandardSport said.
“In the end women’s football became the biggest casualty and such a mistake should not be repeated. Had there been a proper handover-takeover with the board that I led, the Mighty Warriors would by now have risen to be the number one team in Africa.
“Like every human being, Gumbo has her shortcomings, but we should also remember the good things she did for women’s football. She brought in a number of sponsors reviving the Mighty Warriors brand in the process. Sibanda should be in a position to consult her.”
Chibizhe, who was suspended on allegations of trying to unseat the Rafiq Khan-led board together with Leonard Nkala, Pharaoh Jele, Addmore Nyamuramba, Andrew Tapela, Francis Zimunya, Robert Chisvo and Aaron Munautsi, said it is high time personality clashes be put aside.
“It is sad that we get too engrossed in trying to pull each other down. There should be unity of purpose. I think as a woman in the board I was a unifier,” Chibizhe, who started as chairperson for Harare Province Women’s Soccer League in 1993 before rising to be chair of the first national board in 1997, said.
“We worked very hard for the Mighty Warriors brand to compete with the best in Africa. I remember when we launched the brand in 1997. Winnie Mandela was the guest of honour on that day in 1997 and we beat Namibia 7-0. The women’s team was the first to qualify for Afcon before the men’s team. We were also the first to host the Cosafa women’s football Tournament in 2002. That momentum should have been maintained.”
She, however, fired a salvo at the current Zifa board for setting the electoral fee to participate in the board at an exorbitant $5 000 and lack of accountability.
“I wanted to contest for the Zifa chairperson’s post but the $5 000 electoral fee is just exorbitant. I would rather donate the money to victims of Tokwe-Mukorsi floods. When we participated in the 2010 elections I paid $700, but there is no accountability as to how that money was used. During our time in the Zifa board, Sports and Recreation Commission would ask for receipts,” she asked.
Chibizhe, who was part of the Zifa board that took Zimbabwe to its first ever Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2004 added that it was high time a woman was elevated to the post of board member technical in the board.
“People like Rosemary Mugadza have been in the coaching structures for a long time and should now be elevated to the board. It is my belief that there should be a psychologist in the Mighty Warriors set-up as was the case during our time. As the chairperson, you must know your players,” the Level One coaching certificate holder said.
She regretted the alleged abuse that girls suffered during camp with the late Yesmore Mutero at one time alleging that a member of the technical team had infected her with the HIV virus.
“We must put structures that protect the girls and those tasked with looking after the girls should be fatherly figures,” she said.
The retired soldier who holds several Zifa, caf and Fifa qualifications in football administration started sport administration in 1989 when she was elected as the vice-president of the Zimbabwe Netball Association.
Between 1990 and 1992, Chibizhe was elected as the vice-chairperson of Women in Sports Zimbabwe before becoming the chairperson of St Mary’s Football Club in 1992.
In 1993 she was elected as the chairperson of Harare Province before rising to the position of Northern Region secretary-general in 1994.
She later became the chairperson of the organisation in 1995 and also became a committee member of Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association the following year. 1997 became the crowning year for her as she became the founding president of ZWSL and a member of the first Zifa board. Between 2002 and 2004 she was a member of the SRC board before her unceremonious departure after being banned by Zifa.
She was also the chairperson of the short-lived Cosafa Women’s committee in 2003. Currently she is working with Francis Zimunya in an organisation called Lifelong Footballers Zim which caters for former footballers and administrators.
“Our main concern is the welfare of former players. We have now sealed a deal with Nyaradzo that will see players being assisted when death visits,” he said.