UEFA ready to help . . . Ceferin offers Zim football support

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VISITING UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has pledged to provide technical support to Zimbabwean football in order for the local game to reach greater heights.

Ceferin, who is the head of European football and is also FIFA’s vice president, has been in the country since December 27.

The Slovenian arrived in the country through Victoria Falls International Airport together with his wife, children and other close relatives.

During the stay in the country, Ceferin and his family have visited most of Zimbabwe’s main tourist attractions.

Ceferin’s visit was organised by Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa and yesterday, the delegation made a courtesy call at Munhumutapa Building where they met Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and Sports minister Kirsty Coventry.
Speaking after the meeting with the two ministers, Ceferin was pleased with the enthusiasm the government has for sport and football in general.

He believes the game has a pivotal role to play in the well-being of Zimbabwe and UEFA has abundance of resources to help the nation reach the Promised Land as far as football is concerned.

“The most important thing is that the government is interested in football because football connects people and football makes people proud of their countries,” Ceferin told the Daily News yesterday.

“Young people should play football even if they do not become professionals but if they play football, they will not end up on the streets and they will not use drugs; they will be healthier, happier, they will make friends and travel around the world.

“I think you have talent for sure; you need proper help I would say. We are also absolutely ready and happy to send the experts to help, to build the governance structures that can help develop Zimbabwean football.”

With the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) dogged by governance issues and a lack of proper structures, Ceferin believes this is where UEFA can come in to make a huge impact by capacitating local administrators.

“We have experts that know how to build football organization, we have great coaches, the best of the best of football is in Europe,” he said.

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“All the best African players are in Europe so we will now discuss this evening and if we agree, we will send experts and help develop Zimbabwean football.”

Since his election to the post as UEFA president in September 2016, Ceferin has played a huge role in implementing progressing reforms that have changed European football for the better.

With a lot of African players making their mark in the UEFA Champions League, Ceferin believes it only makes sense for his powerful body to give back to the continent.

“We know that in our Champions League which is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, we have many African players playing and we owe something in a way also to the other parts of world not only just in Africa,” the 52-year-old

“We will discuss with the federation and we will discuss with the Cosafa president (Chiyangwa) and we will try to help in different ways.”

Coventry said yesterday’s meeting with Ceferin lays the foundation for Zimbabwe’s partnership with Uefa.

“Right now we are looking at expertise and potentially looking at facilities but all these things need to be spoken about in more details further down the line,” she said.

“Uefa do not send money directly to countries, they do it through expertise, trainings and other things. So they are happy to help us in those areas so we start off in that way and see how it goes.”

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