They were hammered left, right and centre, lost all matches and conceded 15 goals in three matches – but the world still celebrated the Mighty Warriors at the Rio Olympics for their resilience and fighting spirit in their maiden appearance on the global stage.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
It was a historic moment for the Mighty Warriors and each goal they scored brought the entire globe to a standstill, bearing in mind they scored a goal in every match.
Their story was heard and made them heroes to the world as they enjoyed their fun in the sun.
But upon their return on Friday, the Mighty Warriors stepped back into the same old routine of neglect by their own people.
Even the Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, who turned up to pose for pictures with the gallant women’s team, turned his back on them and rushed back to his plush life.
Just like the biblical Peter who denied Jesus Christ three times, before the cock crowed, Chiyangwa had unapologetically denied responsibility of the Mighty Warriors.
“I want to put it on record that the question of my benevolence should not be abused whenever there is an opportunity for people to associate me with their ills.
“There was no Zifa person involved today, it was the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee [ZOC] and when the players dispersed, it was after they had finished their business with ZOC and whatever you are hearing [about the Mighty Warriors getting $5 each on their return], it has nothing to do with Zifa, or me, or my administration.
“We have money [for the Mighty Warriors], which will be distributed next week, together with their stands,” Chiyangwa said in a statement.
At least Zifa for once could watch from the sidelines as somebody else, in this case ZOC, bungled and ill-treated the countries’ heroines.
Sports and Recreation ministerMakhosini Hlongwane, who was also conspicuous by his absence, took to Twitter to push Zifa back onto the crime scene and refute allegations there were no officials at the airport to welcome the girls.
“Folks, Mighty Warriors were received at the airport by Zifa and ZOC, with a bus which ferried them to Daisy Lodge. Four people from Zifa, two from ZOC,” he posted on Twitter.
The Mighty Warriors’ journey as well as their Olympics performance was somewhat shameful for the nation at large, especially the football association and ZOC, the custodians of the team.
But then again, this is a country where shame knows no bounds as there was no prior arrangement for accommodation, food and transport for the gallant girls.
Some of the 500 or so supporters that turned up to welcome the girls were using a better coach than the one that ferried the team from the airport.
From the airport, it is understood the heroines were taken to Chicken Inn at the corner of Julius Nyerere and Nkwame Nkurumah Street in a Prince Edward minibus where they were each given $5 and told to go home. The Olympians, however, refused to be left in the city centre and after some time, they were taken to Daisy Lodge.
They were denied entry into the lodge and waited for Zifa or ZOC officials to come, but nobody showed up, until well-wishers bought the Mighty Warriors lunch — their first meal after returning from the Olympics.
After lunch, the players were then given $5 and $15 each for those who stay locally and those living outside Harare respectively and told to go home.
Since the school bus had long left, they had to use kombis to get into town and go home. What a shame!
It’s sad how a special group of ladies who, against all odds, have given their all for the nation and qualified for the Rio Olympics continue to be ill-treated.
Football fans and top personalities took to social media to express disgust and dismay at the way the Mighty Warriors were treated after a historic appearance at the global games.
“They charmed the world in Rio but Mighty Warriors are now left to fend for themselves. Disgraceful,” BBC sports journalist Farayi Mungazi wrote on Twitter
Popular sportscaster Mike Madoda also aired his views. “Mighty Warriors abandoned after arrival from Rio 2016. Zimbabwe, is this how we treat our heroes?”