‘Gutted’: The effect Zimbabwe’s football ban is having on youth

by | Jul 29, 2022 | World

Harare, Zimbabwe – As Zimbabwe remains suspended from international football, players in the country – from a very promising rookie who made his national team debut as a schoolboy to the established professionals plying their trade in Europe’s best leagues – have spoken of their anguish and frustration.In November last year, Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) President Felton Kamambo and his entire executive were removed by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), a government body that controls sport in the country, after being accused of corruption, misadministration and sexual harassment of female match officials.
Three months later, Zimbabwe were expelled from the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers after the SRC refused to comply with a FIFA directive to reinstate those officials. It remains unclear when Zimbabwe will play international football again.
For 19-year-old Bill Antonio, currently the brightest young prospect in Zimbabwe’s under-funded domestic league, the disciplinary measure has deprived him of the chance to attract interest abroad.
Last week, Antonio flew out for a month-long trial with Belgian club KV Mechelen, hoping his life can take a turn for the better after a disadvantaged upbringing in one of capital Harare’s low-income suburbs.
“The ban closed opportunities for us young players,” Antonio told Al Jazeera while he was still in Zimbabwe. “It slowed down …

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