Major boost for  women’s game . . . more funding for Mighty Warriors, women’s league  

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Godknows Matarutse

AFTER many years of neglect and lack of resources, a new dawn is on the horizon for Zimbabwe women’s football after Fifa availed a Women’s Development Programme aimed at raising the standards of the game.

This comes as Zifa recently received US$500 000 Covid-19 Relief Aid to help the women’s game mitigate the financial challenges brought about by the novel virus.
In this latest initiative, Zifa will be able to unlock more funding that will go towards the development of the league, capacity-building for administrators, coach education scholarships, mentorship and empowering women in football leadership.
In addition to financial assistance to cover the costs in selected programmes, the programme will also provide associations with access to women’s football experts, additional equipment and technical support within Fifa in order to develop women’s football in their country.
Zifa Women’s Football boss Barbara “Mama Red Rose” Chikosi said the association will embrace the Fifa Women’s Development Programme to help develop the game.
“This is a great initiative by Fifa and we are really grateful as Zifa. We are going to take full advantage of this initiative and make sure we access the additional resources for the development of the game locally,” Chikosi told the Daily News.
“As an association, we are really keen on developing women’s football. Very soon we will start rolling out programmes to ensure our local game develops.”
Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League teams have failed to attract funding from the corporate sector largely due to the lack of support from Zifa.
This is despite the Mighty Warriors showing great potential and achieving more accolades than their male counterparts the Warriors.
The Mighty Warriors made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean national football team to qualify for a major global tournament by sealing qualification to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
In 2000, the team reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Afcon finals in South Africa but Zifa have over the years failed to capitalise on the team’s potential.
While most nations are moving towards equal pay for both their men and women’s teams, the Mighty Warriors earn far less than what their male counterparts earn on national duty.
After the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship in South Africa, the women’s national team players were paid a measly $5 for their participation.
However, the Fifa Women’s Development Programme aims to eliminate all these disparities between the men and women’s game.
Fifa secretary-general Fatma Samoura said the women’s game development remains their top priority.
“Fifa’s commitment to supporting our member associations in developing women’s football remains one of our top priorities,” Samoura said when launching the project.
“In addition to the funding currently available via the Covid-19 Women’s Football Grant and the Fifa Forward Programme, the Fifa Women’s Football Development Programme will provide more support and assistance to member associations so that they can invest in the women’s game at all levels.
Fifa chief women’s football officer Sarai Bareman concurred with Samoura saying: “The top-class football and billion-plus television viewers of last year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019 in France showed just how far the women’s game has come.”
Zifa and the rest of the football associations will be able to apply for support across eight key areas of women’s football development during the 2020-2023 period.
Fifa’s initiative will also complement Caf’s women’s football strategy which was launched in July.
This has seen the creation of the Women’s African Champions League as well as increasing the number of team’s taking part in professional leagues on the continent.

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