The African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) is one of the most anticipated sports tournaments on the continent. This year from the 21st of June to the 19th of July; hosted by Egypt. What also makes this edition more exciting is that our very own Zimbabwe national soccer team, the Warriors, will be vying for the coveted cup. The Warriors are in Group A battling it out against Egypt, Uganda and Dr Congo, our first game shall be against the hosts, Egypt on the 21st of June. The much-awaited kit that the Warriors shall be donning was officially unveiled this past Thursday, the 16th of May. That led to a social media frenzy which is still in rotation right now – that’s the focus of my article.

April – When It All Began

There are images that emerged last month showing jerseys meant for the Warriors that were in yellow and red colours. The comments that followed all across social media expressed a vehement dislike for the kit especially over the choice of colours. However, when the official kit was unveiled on Thursday it became apparent that people’s reactions had been heeded. Some sources have indicated that those yellow and red ones are actually going to be made available to the fans and not the Warriors. It actually turned out that people generally embraced the new kit – made by Umbro. It sort of got me thinking as to whether the purported leaks had been accidental or a deliberate ploy to gauge people’s reactions. Anyways, a short while after the official unveiling a new development surfaced – let’s talk about it.

A Locally-Made Kit Was Turned Down For Umbro

There have been images doing rounds on social media of a kit actually made by a local designer which was turned down. This has sparked outrage on social media with people querying why Umbro would be preferred to a locally designed kit. In fact, the general consensus has been that people prefer the local design to the Umbro one. Regardless, I think it’s only fair that we try to make sense of what exactly could have happened. So I did some digging and I found out 3 key points of interest:

ZIFA Didn’t Have Funds

So there are reports that ZIFA didn’t have the money to purchase or facilitate the designing of a kit for the Warriors. So it’s said that they ended up opting Umbro who cited they would do it for free. Not only that, but also that they would even pay something on top of that.  This implies that the local designer didn’t have the capacity to do likewise.

Sponsorship Dynamics

It’s said that Umbro entered a sponsorship deal with ZIFA. Here’s how it works, Umbro designs and produces the kits and actually pays ZIFA so that they get the rights for their kits to be worn by the Warriors. So it’s more like they pay a sponsorship package to ZIFA for that to happen. So considering that Umbro is a big brand it does have the capacity to go through with such a deal. It emerged that they have now signed a 3 year deal with ZIFA. Umbro will actually cater to all the local national teams’ kits requirements. Some of the benefits Umbro will attain are advertising space and through the sales of replicas – which are now available for USD35 in selected retail stores. So all this again implies that the local designer might have not had the capacity to fulfil all these terms.

The Local Designer Failed To Honour His Prior Deal

Word on social media has it that the local designer won a tender to do a kit for Caps United last year. Despite having gotten the tender it’s said that he failed to provide the full kit needed (i.e. tracksuits and other related extras weren’t delivered). So this brings to the fore two things namely, he wouldn’t have had the capacity to do the actual kit production (let alone pay ZIFA on top of that). The second issue being that the failure to fulfil the Caps United commitment set a bad precedent for him to be considered for this Warriors kit.

So there is an on-going tug of war where some are saying that local talent has been disregarded. Some are saying there is no way the local designer could have had a bigger capacity and pocket than Umbro. Some are saying the local designer does have the capacity and pocket but Umbro was chosen based on underhanded dealings. So we wait to see if any substantial information will emerge on what truly transpired.