International: Matabeleland

The latest in our series of Non-Fifa International sides is here, and today we are looking at the Matabeleland National Football Team.

Modern-day Matabeleland is a region in Zimbabwe divided into three provinces: Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South. These provinces are in the west and south-west of Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. The region is named after its inhabitants, the Ndebele people. Other ethnic groups who inhabit parts of Matabeleland include the Tonga, Kalanga, Venda, Nambia, Sotho, Tswana and Khoisan. 

As Matabeleland is in the present day is part of Zimbabwe, the region doesn’t qualify for affiliation with FIFA or UEFA. Therefore Matabeleland are part of ConIFA, The Confederation of Independant Football Associations.

Credit: Matabeleland Twitter.

The Team is run by Matabeleland Football Confederacy which is itself administered by the Save Matabeleland Coalition. The Matabeleland Football Confederacy is an Independent Football Association promoting football in Matabeleland. The Confederacy is open to all clubs and soccer associations in Matabeleland provided they subscribe to the Constitution of the Matabeleland Football Confederacy. Its objectives being development through sport, Community Development and Career exposure.

The Confederacy was founded in 2016 by Busani Sibindi who is its President. The Technical Director who is also a Co-founder is Busani Khanye.

In 2018 after playing a number of unofficial games against club teams, Matabeleland qualified for the ConIFA World Cup hosted by fellow African team Barawa, finishing 3rd in their group and narrowly missing out on the knockout stages after games against Padania, Székelyland and Tuvalu.

Like running any national team, the founding and establishment of the Matabeleland team was not smooth sailing, Justin Walley’s book title, documenting his journey as the manager of CONIFA-affiliated Matabeleland, One Football, No Nets, accurately describes the situation of many of CONIFA’s members and is a must read.

Matabeleland before their journey to the World Cup

Matabeleland are set to return to the UK in July of this year on a European Charity Tour that will see the Warrior Birds try to raise money for deprived schools in their region, playing against sides such as Prague Raptors, The Yorkshire National Team and Derbyshire side Renishaw Rangers.

From everyone here at ‘Climbing The Ladder’ we’d like to wish everyone involved with Matabeleland all the best their European tour and we will try ang get to one of your games in the UK.

Author: Alex Scott

Currently doing as much freelance journalism work as possible. Avid football fan and player currently at Penrith Academy.

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