President Morgan Tsvangirai’s statement to Zimbabwe ahead of the Warriors’ participation at the Afcon tournament in Gabon
Beginning this coming Sunday, the senior Zimbabwe national soccer team goes into battle at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Gabon against three of the continent’s football powerhouses in the form of Tunisia, Senegal and Algeria.
As Zimbabweans, we should all temporarily switch off from our daily grind for survival and root for our brave and heroic sons who have made it to the continent’s biggest soccer fiesta.
Indeed, for some fleeting moments, football will be our worthwhile distraction from the long bank queues, the worsening political and economic crisis as well as a national leadership that is completely at sea on how to respond to the serious challenges facing the nation.
I will personally be joining millions of Zimbabweans in backing our national football heroes. It speaks to the Warriors’ great capacity and we should all be filled with pride that our country is the region’s sole representatives at a tournament reserved for Africa’s best.
I will take time one of the days during this tournament to watch the Warriors from one of the public places in Harare’s townships and enjoy experiencing with fellow Zimbabweans the immense unifying power of football. I cherish these moments when we all unite regardless of our political affiliation to cherish sport and to rally behind our nation!
I understand the frustrating experience of our Warriors in the run-up to this tournament and their painful experience of lies and missed promises fed to them by both the government and the football authorities. At one time they were promised stands but nothing was done. Instead we have seen stands being irregularly and unprocedurally being given to Zanu PF youths at the expense of our patriotic sportsmen as well as our history-making football women—the Mighty Warriors.
It became a collective national shame when we all heard that our Warriors could not use the National Sports stadium for training because football authorities had failed to raise the US$60 needed for the use of the venue. Such ineptitude during a national team’s preparation just sums up our sad and embarrassing story of failed national leadership.
I equally understand everyone’s frustration at such ineptitude especially in the wake of the President’s annual leave that media reports say has gobbled in excess of $6 million and the current furore of a $1,3 million diamond ring associated with the First family. Such extravagance testifies to the fact that we certainly have the resources to do better in support of our national sports teams. It’s just that our priorities are wrong and misplaced!
However, I am fully confident that the Warriors will put aside the crisis facing the nation, their current financial plight as well as the chaos and the shoddy preparations in the run-up to this continental soccer tournament. From Sunday until we reach the finals, what must only matter to our boys is national pride. We are a nation of heroes in every respect and we must all believe that our boys are capable of bringing the cup home. Yes, the Warriors can easily defy the odds.
I have unstinting faith in the Warriors. I am confident they will shock everyone in Africa by winning this tournament and bring back the smiles to the battered souls of the suffering people of this lovely country.
Let us all support our national team.
Go Warriors Go!