Mr Wellington Nyatanga, president of the Zimbabwe Football Association, came to FIFA to pay Joseph S. Blatter a visit on Tuesday 3 February. Since his election in 2006, Nyatanga has been a busy man. His country has been in an economic crisis since 2003 and is currently in the throes of a cholera epidemic which according to United Nations figures has already claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people. In the midst of this chaos, Nyatanga has been able, with FIFA's help, to keep both the association and football in general in Zimbabwe moving in the right direction.
Mr Nyatanga, can you tell us what you discussed with President Blatter?
I informed the FIFA President about the state of football in Zimbabwe during these trying times. FIFA gave the Zimbabwe association a road map to follow in 2005 which I took up after I was elected in 2006. We were therefore looking today to see whether we had fulfilled our objectives, and I am happy to be able to tell you that we have done reasonably well. The main thing is that since 2006, the association has been able to keep things stable despite the awkward economic and political conditions.
Can you explain what help you have already received from FIFA and what you are looking for in the future?
FIFA has given us a great deal of help for a long time now, particularly with the Goal I project (youth football development project dating back to 2002). I am also here in Zurich to ask for aid for a Goal II project to build a technical coaching centre for youth teams. The Win in Africa with Africa programme has already enabled us in the space of only nine months to get an artificial pitch in a township in the suburbs of Harare. I would go so far as to say that the cooperation between my association and FIFA is as good as it possibly could be, and I am delighted about that.
You must have discussed the health situation in Zimbabwe...
That's obviously a question that came up and in particular the cholera epidemic that is ravaging our country. I explained to the President that the international community along with UNICEF and also our neighbours such as South Africa and Mozambique are all helping us stop the epidemic and to eradicate this curse. To play football you need to be healthy, which is why we have been discussing how FIFA can also help us in terms of sanitation.
How are your national teams faring at the moment?
Our U-17 team has qualified for the next CAN in their age group, while our full international team are part of the eight best countries in the CHAN (African Cup of Nations open only to African-based players). We are very pleased with both of these achievements, particularly given the conditions at the moment, but we need help to balance the books.
What does the future hold?
There is the 2010 World Cup coming up but we won't be taking part, haying already been knocked out. I am hopeful about the future though. If we keep on the same track in terms of development, we should manage to qualify for the CAN 2012 and then who knows, maybe for the 2014 World Cup. If we keep training our administration via FIFA programmes, the association will be able to remain stable and we will keep on making progress. Despite the enormous difficulties at the moment, and thanks to FIFA's help, our results have been consistently encouraging. I am convinced that FIFA's support has brought about the stability that is the reason for our sporting success.