By Anashe Murombedzi
The Mighty Warriors’ poor performance at the COSAFA women’s Championship where they were eliminated at the group stage for the second year running has brought to the fore some of the problems affecting local women’s football.
While the easy way out is to blame the Mighty Warriors’ poor performance on the Covid-19 induced inactivity, something is not right with the way women’s football is being run in the country.
What has happened at the COSAFA tournament over the past two years is rather disappointing for a team that was rubbing shoulders with the best in world just a few years ago when the Mighty Warriors became the first football team to qualify for the Olympics.
The results at this year’s COSAFA tournament speak of a team that has lost direction – what with a three-nil clobbering by Tanzania followed by a labored 2-1 win against a light weight South Sudan.
Even though the Mighty Warriors went on to beat Botswana 3-0 in their last match, it was not enough for them to progress to the knockout stage.
Correctional Queens Chairperson Mavis Gumbo says besides the Covid-19 pandemic being the major factor, there are also funding challenges.
“We were not spared the negative effects of uncertainty, inactivity and health risks by the pandemic. We lost a lot of time in terms of training and match day action during the subsequent lockdowns. The fitness levels of our players were seriously affected and we are now working on their fitness regime ahead of the return of women football. We have other challenges to contend with, funding from the corporate sector has scaled down, with its sponsorship budget now low due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Gumbo said.
Black Rhinos Queens Acting Secretary General Thilli Admico also highlighted the issue of sponsorship and incentives for the women’s game.
Said Admico: “Leagues in Zimbabwe are not being sponsored and there are no incentives in rewards towards the same leagues and individuals who have been excelled during the leagues and Tournaments. There’s limited media coverage that is to publicise and promote women football from the grass roots level to national level.”
What is even more disappointing is that there is nothing on the ground to prove that domestic women’s football will back any time soon with the Women Super League awaiting clearance from ZIFA and SRC to resume competitive action.