21 February 2020 – 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.
— The CEO of Tanzanian giants Simba SC will be speaking at the upcoming
— WFS Africa will take place in the ICC Durban on March 17th and 18th and it will gather global and regional leaders such as FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura; LaLiga President, Javier Tebas; SAFA President, Danny Jordaan, or Sierra Leone Football Association President Isha Johansen among others.
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
• Reconciliation of all assets – 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 these 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 quarterfinals 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 professionalize our club operations, have competent. Administrators to manage our clubs, which would be a good start. Upskilling of our club management and all management personnel, start respecting the experts in their different fields, i.e. 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. Issues around the scouting of players and technical personnel are also crucial. All these are essential components of a club and its success.