South African football administrator, Senzo Mazingisa Mbatha is one of the few individuals who have used their 2010 FIFA World Cup experience to boost capacity on the continent. Mbatha is currently the CEO of Tanzanian Giants Simba SC and will be one of the speakers at the World Football Summit (WFS) Africa that will take place in Durban on 17-18 March at the ICC.
WFS Africa caught up with him to give us his perspective of the game and its future.
Q: Tell us a bit about your journey which ended up where you are now at Simba FC.
A: It is a typical football journey. I have been serving the football industry for over 20 years now, and the experience gained through my different assignments at different footballing organisations has made this move possible. I got contacted and advised that there’s a position of the CEO advertised by the East African Giants Simba SC of Tanzania last year. I applied for the job, went through all the processes, and as they say, the rest is history. I am really appreciative of the opportunity to lead Simba SC.
Q: What are your goals at Simba?
A: Firstly, we need to commend the President of Simba SC, Mr Mohammed Dewji for his vision for the club. Together with his board of directors, they have been on a transformation process for the past three years. The main goal is to transform Simba to a professional entity and as such my main task is to ensure that I bring professional football administration to the club. The management team, under the leadership of the CEO, is responsible for the day to day running of the club and my primary goals are:
- Internal Restructuring – we need to have an independent professional management structure to drive this club
- Transformation of football – recruitment of players, alignment of all developmental teams and woman football in the club
- Promotion of Simba Sports Club as a selling brand in East Africa and the rest of the Continent – we need to take Simba to the world, employing aggressive marketing and selling of the brand
- Reconciliation of all asset – the club needs to consolidate its assets, complete its training Base Camp and better manage the current resources
- Development of new business units – diversification of all sources of income, look at other ways to generate income, other than funding by the shareholders and gate takings.
- Transformation of fans to customers – Simba is a well-supported club, we need to find mutually beneficial projects with our fans and members to ensure that the relationship with their club goes beyond the fan to a customer.
Q: What is your take on the game on the continent? Is it on the upward or is static?
A: It is difficult to give a fair comment on this questions because the game of football has improved in some parts of the continent and has dropped in other parts. The Southern African teams have been doing well in the last few years, exporting good talent overseas, winning Cup of Nations (Zambia), winning the CAF Champions League (Mamelodi Sundowns) etc; also taking into account how the Woman football has fared in the last few years, I would say it’s also on the up. In other parts like the Western and Central African Region, most teams in CAF competitions have somehow found the going tough. I can’t recall when last we had any of their teams in the semis of the CAF competition. Teams in North Africa continue to do well both in club and National Teams competitions. It’s also pleasing to see teams in East Africa doing fairly well.
I mean, Tanzania in this regard winning the u20 CECAFA Cup tournament, qualifying for the CAF CHAN tournament, producing teams that went all the way to the quarter-finals in CAF club championships.
That must be commended. We have recently witnessed one of Tanzanian stars being signed by Aston Villa. So overall I think the game is on the up in most parts of Africa.
Q: How do you think the game can be improved in Tanzania and East Africa as a whole?
A: I firmly believe that if we can professionalise our club operations, have competent administrators to manage our clubs, that would be a good start. Upskilling of our club management and all management personnel, start respecting the experts in their different fields, ie. Marketing Experts, Coaches etc. Football has evolved to an extent that the football on the pitch has become 30 percent of the overall success of the club. There is need to pay attention to governance, marketing, sponsorships and brand building, stakeholder and business management and most of all focus on income generations for the sustainability. Of course, issues around the scouting of players and technical personnel are also crucial. All these are essential components of a football club and its success.
Q: What do you make of initiatives like WFS Africa? What are the outcomes you would like to see come of such initiatives?
A: These are significant initiatives. I have also attended similar initiatives in the last few months, these sorts of initiatives assist you as an individual to gauge the level at which you and or your organisation is operating at versus what the industry is working at. It is also an opportunity to learn new ideas, meeting new partners and embracing the existing one. More so we get to see how best to move our club and organisations forward. It is also encouraging to be invited to these summits to give your expert knowledge and experiences in shaping our football on the continent. I would like to thank the organisers and sponsors for such a great initiative.
Q: What is the biggest shortcoming stifling growth on the continent, from your point of view?
A: Separation of Administration and politics when it comes to sports – let the politicians and or Directors decide on a strategy and the vision and allow the operators to execute and hold them accountable. Finished Mbatha.