Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
ZIFA vice-president, Omega Sibanda believes his elevation to the National Assembly after winning the election for Vungu constituency will also benefit sport as he intends lobbying for funding of the sector.
Sibanda, who won the seat on a Zanu-PF ticket, said although he has been sent to Parliament by the people of Vungu, his involvement in sport will also see the industry benefit.
He said sport will never be the same again as he intends teaming up with other colleagues from the sporting fraternity who made it to the August house and influence Government policy in favour of sport.
Sibanda said as a participant in policy formulation at the highest level, he was ready to influence others to make the necessary changes to lift the country’s sport.
“It would be foolhardy for me to participate in a process that will pass a budget that will benefit other sectors with nothing coming towards sport. At the moment there is next to little funding that is channelled by Government towards sport at any level.
“I believe it is Government’s role to fund national teams, be it football, rugby, darts, water polo or swimming. There is a lot of noise being made about national teams failing but how are they being assisted to achieve success. We can’t have a pie in the sky scenario where we expect much to be achieved with little funding being channelled towards sport,” he said.
Sibanda, who is fondly known as Oms in football circles, said he will lobby for grassroot and national team funding adding these are the two critical areas that Government should focus on in the interim, adding companies should come on board in between.
He said Government has been bailing out companies and investing funds in industries and if the same could be done for sport it can bring in returns with the right investment. He said there was a need to engage marketers to find out how sport can attract consistent funding from the corporate world to ensure the industry’s survival, adding that other countries were taking advantage of the marketing opportunities presented by sport to fund the industry while locally it is a different tale.
Sibanda, who also had a hand in music and arts promotion, said having been involved in promoting boxing and wrestling, he will not only vouch for just football but the whole sporting fraternity. He saluted individuals who have poured their money in sport, saying they deserve recognition.
“There are many who sacrifice their hard earned cash just to keep a sports team afloat. I know many such people and they get little in return so I would want to salute them and I will make efforts to ensure they are recognised,” added Sibanda, who has reiterated he will also be seeking re-election as Zifa vice-president in elections scheduled for December.