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Visiting the various institutions was not the main aim of the tour of Southern Africa made by the delegation of FIFPro Division Africa (board member Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe, secretary general Stéphane Burchkalter and director of communications Stéphane Saint-Raymond). Their primary objective was to see for themselves what progress has been made by the individual unions, how well established they are at the heart of national sporting life and, of course, what impact their actions are having on players.

 

The offices of the Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) sometimes resemble a beehive, situated as they are within the national stadium, where many teams do their training. Many pros come in to spend a few moments before or after training sessions, to get the latest information and swap ideas. Players who, at the request of the FUZ, go beyond the call of union duty to dedicate themselves to campaigning against AIDS. Organized in partnership with the US Embassy in Harare, their various activities help bring awareness to a large number of young people. These professional footballers willingly visit schools to warn of the risks of the disease and give information about preventing it.

 

Like many other Zimbabwean professionals, Caps United FC and Zimbabwe defender Tapiwa Kumbuyani plays his part in the campaign to prevent Aids organized by FUZ

 

FUZ President Desmond Maringwa explains: ‘Whether it be among the players we approach - some of them internationals, and none ever shrinks from the task - or the children and their teachers we meet, this initiative is an outright success, proof that we were right to devote ourselves to this social and educational programme. The footballer has a powerful image in our country, and if it can help the struggle against this pestilence, then we must act and mobilize the greatest possible number of our members.’

 

Similar activities are also carried out in the other countries (South Africa, Namibia and Botswana) where opportunities permit.

 

In Namibia, because of the location of their offices, the organizers of the Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU) have chosen a different approach. Though very much present in the daily life of all the clubs, they are currently located at the heart of the Namibian Trade Union Congress building. ‘Which doesn’t deter players from coming to visit us regularly’, notes union president Sylvester Goraseb. ‘NAFPU is an integral part of the Namibian professional football landscape, and the mobilization of the professionals is palpable, not least in the membership numbers, which keep on rising…’

 

While the South African union (SAFPU) is preparing to move into brand new premises in Johannesburg, the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) doesn’t yet possess its own offices. Unlike the other unions referred to, which are either members or candidate members, it still has observer status. But the FUB’s leaders hope things are about to develop fast. ‘Which doesn’t prevent our being close to the players… For the moment, we have to go out to meet them but, as soon as we get ourselves installed in our own offices, they’ll be welcome to come to our place. Which is their place!’

 

Just back from the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN), where they were recognized as the cream of the Botswana team, Onalethata Tshekiso (Township Rollers), Pontsho Moloi (Mochudi Centre Chiefs) and Noah Maposa (Gaborone United) pose with the Division Africa delegation and the FUB team