Chiwenga: To change, develop economies via football

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WHILE the football world has been male dominated for many decades, over the years the wind of change in sports continue to blow in favour of female athletes and women who are gradually picking up nerve-wrecking roles.

The progress is certainly something to celebrate, even though the industry remains highly dominated by men, where even in women’s football leagues, men still hold 91 percent of all coaching jobs at all levels.

Despite the slow progress in women emancipation through the sport, a United Kingdom-based football intermediary, only African woman match agent in the world and Zimbabwe’s only accredited female Fifa match agent, Ellen Chiwenga, is determined to change the narrative and use her skills and experience to uplift women football in Zimbabwe and also improve the country’s soccer as a whole.

It is through legally representing athletes by checking their contracts and negotiating their employment and being responsible for communication between managers and individuals she represents through her EC Football Consultancy that Ellen has scaled dizzy heights in the world of football where she promotes social and economic development through football.

She arranges worldwide matches between teams belonging to different confederations, such as friendly matches and tournaments between national teams and clubs.

“I organise international friendly games with Premier League teams and national football teams worldwide, which also means attracting sponsors and investors that will help promote brands, investment and tourism in the countries hosting the teams,” Ellen told the Daily News on Sunday.

“My greatest highlight is to see how many more women are now involved in football. When I started, I was often the only female in the room. As much as there is improvement nowadays, there is still a long way to go.

“The women’s game is gaining traction every day globally, and this is just the beginning. I would also want to see this happening to my home country Zimbabwe.”

Ellen described herself as a woman with big dreams, who wants to have a lasting impact by driving change and developing economies through football, especially in Africa.

She added that infrastructure is a big hurdle in the country’s football, adding that there is need to improve the stadia and the way players are developed from the grassroots to professional levels.

“Football clubs need to be owned by local communities, the people, the fans, those who come to the stadium every weekend to watch the games. You don’t want to have individual owners who take decisions that don’t respect the values and culture of the clubs they buy,” Ellen said.

“Football brings people of different backgrounds together, it brings hope, it has the power to change the world and I want to be the global ambassador of that football, the football that heals countries and communities, build bridges, and create new great economic opportunities for people around the globe.”

Ellen added that her dream is to transform football into a powerful instrument of economic and human development that builds healthy communities, fosters growth, empowers women and inspires change around the world.

She was born in Zimbabwe and attended school in Harare. It was through seeing the nice football pitches the country used to have back then that she became fascinated by the game, attending football matches with her uncles was also a contributing factor to her fascination for the game.

“My uncles were into football. One was the FA president (Wellington Nyatanga) at the time, and his brother (Eddie Nyatanga) was chairman of a football club, which means that throughout the day, discussions were always focused on football,” she said.

“The game was the main topic in the family, but I didn’t know at the time that it would have such a big influence in my life. My dream was to become a supermodel, like Naomi Campbell. I did a few fashion shows, and advertisements for TVs, catalogues, product labels, and magazines, but my destiny was somewhere else — on the pitch side.

“It is when my uncle asked me to come and join him in Scotland, where he owned a football club, that it all really started.

“When I came to the United Kingdom, I was thrilled to be in the country that invented the game. And the football pitches were as beautiful as a King’s garden. I was living football and haven’t looked back since.”
Ellen added that she was lucky to be surrounded by uncles who were living the game every single day, even though she had to fight her way up.

“Nothing was a given, I had to learn by myself, and with the help of a few formidable people like Rachel Anderson, the UK’s first female Fifa-licensed agent. Nothing happens by chance,” she said.

Ellen is a member of the Association of Football Agents (AFA), the International Association of Fifa Licensed Football Match Agents (FIFMA), and Women in Football (WIF) from Zimbabwe.

In 2017, she won the Personality of the Year Award under the Zimbabwe Achievers’ Awards and the African Woman of the Year in Football in 2018 where she was named the Best African Woman making a difference in the sports category at the African Virtuous Women Awards.

In August 2019, Chiwenga was appointed Global Goodwill Ambassador of Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation (BHHF), a charity organisation that delivers humanitarian aid and medicines to internally displaced people, refugees and people in need around the world.

In November 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Football Black List Award for her outstanding work in football. Football’s Black List has become the biggest, and most respected, celebration of African and Caribbean achievement in the British game.

In January this year, she was awarded the Medal of Knight of the Order of Lafayette and is also a member of the Right to Play’ Partnerships Committee.
Ellen is not related to the country’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

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