HARARE – At long last, government finally heard the calls from the Mighty Warriors when each member of the team received $1 000 from the Sports ministry.
For many years, Zimbabwe’s female footballers have been treated like second-class citizens by both government and the Zimbabwe Football Association. This is despite the fact that the Mighty Warriors are the most successful national team the country has ever produced with their achievements surpassing even the men’s team — the Warriors.
While the Warriors are booked in five-star hotels and treated like rock stars, the Mighty Warriors, on the other hand, are left all alone to fend for themselves.
Before matches, the women’s national team is usually booked at the snake-infested Zifa Village in Mt Hampden, routinely enduring poor meals.
Although they are high performance athletes, the Mighty Warriors are usually forced to dig into their own pockets after Zifa would have failed to provide even those substandard meals.
After beating Namibia in the first round qualifier for the 2018 African Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon), the Mighty Warriors players were given various amounts that ranged between $5 and $20 for their efforts.
In response, the players staged a sit-in at the Zifa Village as the national association seemed not moved by the plight of the squad.
When Zifa chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse addressed the players, his speech was full of vile.
The Zifa boss said the Mighty Warriors home game against Namibia had not generated any money hence the association was not in a position to pay them anything more than the amounts they had received.
However, this is the same team that became the first Zimbabwean football squad to qualify for the Olympic Games after they booked a place at the finals in Brazil 2016.
The Mighty Warriors have also reached the semi-finals of the Awcon finals twice before in 2000 and 2004.
The men’s team have never managed to progress out of the group stages to reach the knockout phase on the three occasions they have qualified for the Afcon finals in 2004, 2006 and 2017.
The gesture by government on Monday night to reward the Mighty Warriors although they failed to qualify for the 2018 Awcon finals must signal the start of brighter days for the team.
These women have suffered for long enough and it is time we bring the smiles back to their faces.