Zimbabwe has had a lot of footballers who have made fortunes plying their trade in Europe and other parts of the world.
By Michael Kariati
Norman Mapeza built a mansion in the leafy suburb of Glen Lorne in Harare, Benjani Mwaruwari acquired houses in the United Kingdom, France and South Africa, and of course, Edward Sadomba has accumulated properties in all the four corners of the country.
But never do we hear of any one of them venturing into business or any other money-spinning venture to complement the earnings accumulated from football.
Instead, they have been concentrating on fighting for the same cake – that of landing the national team coach post or other positions in the Warriors set up.
It is a fact that most former footballers who played their football in Zimbabwe have ended up destitute. But should we expect the same fate for those plying their trade outside the country where the money is?
A football fan jokingly said one player who featured in the South African Absa Premiership had nothing to show for his six-year stint in that country apart from the pictures he brought from his playing days.
What lesson is that for generations to come?
This is the scenario that Harlington Shereni is determined to change and prove that retired footballers can live without coaching or anything to do with football as there are other paths to take.
Shereni, who played for Dynamos before his departure for Switzerland and later France, says he wants to show that footballers can be as good as any successful businessman in the country. Shereni is weighing out a number of business options to invest in, but rules out involvement in football.
The former Zimbabwe international who also played for Strasbourg and Nantes in France said he has already started laying down the foundation for his business venture which will be there for everyone to see in a few months’ time.
“I am out of football. I know it will be difficult but that is my decision. I am looking at certain business ventures to see which route I can take,” he said.
The former Dynamos defender rules out going into coaching or being a player manager or agent, adding that the only way he could help football is by linking youngsters who showed potential with his former coaches in Europe.
Should he succeed in his business venture, he would have laid down the foundation for most of Zimbabwean footballers who see coaching as the only way to survive after retiring from football.
Shereni says he would have loved a position within the Zimbabwe Football Association, but the name of the office has been soiled to an extent that very few people would love to be associated with it.
The defender, who was part of the Warriors squad for the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, offered his views on why he thinks the Warriors have been perennial under-achievers on the international front.
To him, the war between the players and the national football controlling body, Zifa, was a major contributor.
“There are differences every day. The main problem is and has been money. Funds should be made available long before a game, and agreed upon long before the match is played,” said Shereni.
He dismissed the claim by Zifa that they were not getting government support, saying governments all over the world only came in to complement what the football associations would have raised from various sponsors.
“In other countries, there are sponsors for travel kits and accommodation. But that is not happening here.
“Something is wrong somewhere. The sponsors are there but the approach is wrong,” said Shereni.
However, Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze stood in defence of the football federation.
He says they have been to every company big and small but the results have been the same.
“Zifa? No, no. Our name will be brought into the mud,” has been the general response from sponsors, Mashingaidze said.
The Zifa supremo said the name of the association was brought into disrepute long before they came into office, adding that repairing it was becoming a big problem.
The former En Avant Guihgamp defensive midfielder said as long as the association did not put its house in order, Zimbabwe would not make the Nations Cup trip as happened in 2004 and 2006.
Even as the World Cup seems far beyond Zimbabwe’s reach, the Warriors have failed to qualify even for the Africa Cup of Nations since 2006 when weak footballing nations like Namibia and Botswana made it to the football showcase and more importantly, when neighbours Zambia won the competition itself.
But Mashingaidze says they have laid down a plan starting from the juniors to see to it that Zimbabwe qualifies for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals. That is if they do not win the right to host the tournament.