Veteran broadcaster blasts ZIFA for treating U-17 girls like “prisoners”

United Kingdom-based veteran broadcaster Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda has come out guns blazing in tearing into  Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) officials for allegedly treating the national U-17 women’s team like prisoners.

The girls are in camp preparing for the World Cup qualifier return leg against Botswana in Bulawayo this afternoon and it is being reported that they are being housed at a high school without any basic toiletry while they counterparts are in a five star hotel.

Sibanda, who is in the country currently, accused the country’s football governing body of being insensitive to the plight of the young girls.

“We are at Eveline Girls high school where Zimbabwe Under 17 girls are camping. We met them at BF and was horrified by the stories from the kids who have no sanitary towels, no toilet tissues and others accessories needed by young girls. We spoke to the team management and coaches who appeared desperate for help. I organised and bought goodies to help the kids but on arriving at their camp, situation has changed. The team management has been instructed by one Brighton Malandule who works for Orap as Finance Director & Zifa Board Member to refuse the donation. It looks like the team management will be victimied for talking to the press. As we speak Botswana under 17 team is booked at Rainbow Hotel. The match is 2moro at Barbourfields Stadium and Botswana won 5 nil in the first leg. It’s a sad state of affairs” posted Sibanda on his Facebook page.

He continued: “The privilege of being selected to represent your country brings the huge and added responsibility of giving back to the sport and to the country. Its saddening & insulting to be treated as a prisoner while representing your own country. Our under 17 girls are treated like prisoners by Zimbabwe Football Association. They are accommodated in a disused school dormitory, with no facilities for sports people. Rest rooms have no tissues, they have no sanitary towels and the beds are tiny, tattered and old not fit for any human being to sleep on.

We cant as a nation allow ill treatment of young girls representing the nation. We cant as a society ignore the plight of innocent young kids being taken for a ride and taken advantage of by Zifa. We cant as a society watch and fold our hands when teenagers in camp representing the county plead with strangers to help buy them sanitary towels. We cant as a community ignore kids representing the country to be bullied by a Zifa official who threatened to fire the entire technical team and girls for talking to the press.

Where are the Girl Child Network groups? Where are those that claim to be champions of children’s rights? Where are Human Rights defenders? Where is Minister of sports? Where is Resident Minister of Bulawayo? Can the First Lady of Zimbabwe, who l understand is in Bulawayo, come to the rescue of these young girls? Zifa and Sports Commission should know the flag represents the values of democracy, freedom, liberty, justice, and opportunity. It also upholds the service that men and women have given for this country and why cant they respect the young ones representing the country?

Zifa controversial Board Member, who works for Orap as Finance Director, is also chairman of referees committee and other portfolios in the chaotic Association, Mr Brighton Malandule has been instrumental in bringing our game into disrepute. He has been manipulating & bullying the team just like he does with Zimbabwe referees he is heading. There is no professionalism in Zifa and it’s just a bunch of corrupt failures, who have no idea on how to run the game.

This Government should simply interfere in our Football to help fix things. It’s ok for Fifa to ban us so that we can put our house in order. The current crisis cannot be ignored. The deliberate mistreatment and neglect of our girls from an administration that doesn’t care but very selfish and thinking about enriching themselves cannot be allowed to go on.”

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