HARARE – Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane should not wish away the mistreatment of the Mighty Warriors before and after their national duty at the Women Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Cameroon last year.
The welfare of the Mighty Warriors took centre stage in Parliament last week and rightly so with the legislators demanding to know if it was government policy to discriminate our female footballers.
While government availed $1 million for the Warriors’ participation at the Afcon, it offered nothing at all for the Mighty Warriors’ participation at Afcon.
The women’s football team had requested $300 000, a third of what was given to the Warriors.
Interestingly, the Mighty Warriors’ welfare for the Afcon tournament, including air tickets came from well-wishers.
The legislators were right after all that there is discrimination when it comes to funding the men and women’s national senior football teams.
If indeed and like what Hlongwane told Parliament that there is no policy of discrimination, government should avail the $300 000 the Mighty Warriors had asked for in their budget which they presented to government.
Hlongwane should convince government like what he did when he sourced $1 million for the Warriors.
The Mighty Warriors we are talking about are still around and ready for the next assignment but they patiently wait for their appearance fees.
While we understand that some well-wishers conducted a car raffle so as to raise money to pay the Mighty Warriors for the performance at Afcon, it is prudent that Hlongwane pays them what they had asked for.
And the Mighty Warriors were not as greedy as the Warriors, asking for only $300 000 to cover all their costs.
Like I mentioned above, Hlongwane should not just wish this issue away and make apologies to the nation; these women like their male counterparts have families to look after and they too have bills to pay.
When the Mighty Warriors are on duty they will be on national duty working, hence they need to be paid timely.
The shackling of Hlongwane by the legislators should spring into action Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
Zimbabweans are angry at Zifa’s handling of football issues; its administration of the local game stinks.
But we all blame Hlongwane and we will continue to shout at him because he is the chief executive of our sports — Zifa reports to him and he should be tough if there is going to be sanity in our local football administration.
It is our hope that Hlongwane will today bring to Parliament the breakdown of payments made to the national soccer teams as he promised legislators last week.
Zifa should be able to tell him how much it spent from the $1 million government gave the Warriors because the team was eliminated early because had it been still in the game today and playing the semi-finals (what a dream) they would have been paying them bonuses and daily allowances.
The legislators were right to demand answers on how that money was used because Zifa is notorious for not paying for services as amplified by its huge debt.
It is time to clean up the mess and the legislators are right to smell some rot at the way football, the most popular game in Zimbabwe, is being handled.