Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor
EXACTLY two weeks ago, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) announced that, following an application by Zifa, the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation had approved a gradual and phased resumption of football activities in line with the provisions of Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020.
The announcement came as a huge relief to the football crazy fans who had been starved of local football since March when Highlanders lost to league champions FC Platinum in a Castle Challenge Cup final played at Barbourfields Stadium. League matches were expected to get underway soon after that final and all was on course until Covid-19 struck, forcing Governments across the world to impose national lockdowns which included freezing of all sporting activities, including football.
So, when the Commission announced that the game was finally returning the news was naturally sweet music to fans.
What was to start was group training while competition proper will be conducted in a bubble format where a mini league will be organised, said the SRC director general, Prince Mupazviriho.
“The resumption of football activities shall take the format of the mini league using the bubble concept adopted by yourselves. The football activities in addition to the requirements specified by World Health Organisation (WHO) for safe resumption of sport, Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020, your submitted protocols, other legislation and policy directives relating to the prevention and containment of Covid-19, be subject to the following conditions; strict adherence to the bubble concept, implementation of Standard Operating Procedures and Zifa and its affiliates to provide resources and finances to undertake those activities,” the Commission said.
Now two weeks later since that exciting announcement by the country’s supreme sports body, there is nothing on the ground to suggest that football was on its way back. Zifa seem to have been taken by surprise by the announcement, it’s like they were not ready to resume and the SRC caught them unprepared yet the application was done by their secretariat.
If this is not embarrassment then nothing will be. Zifa seems completely in the dark, no plan, in theory or otherwise has been tabled. Only the better organised Premier Soccer League seem ready but they can’t do anything without the national association providing guidelines on how to go about.
Zifa is supposed to provide funds for this journey because no training can start without the players and other support staff getting tested for Covid-19. That is the basic thing that must be done before anything else. Hopes are that they won’t be many if any positive cases once testing gets underway.
What exactly is holding Zifa from getting the process underway no one knows. The PSL is ready, teams are ready, only Zifa seem not to be ready.
The mini league which is expected to be held in December is becoming more and more of a dream with each passing day.
We have been preaching that teams need eight weeks of hard, group training for their players to be fully fit for competitive games and that is a good two months. We are starting a new month this weekend.
It will not come as a surprise to some of us if we are to be the only Cosafa member that will remain without any football activity, all thanks to the Felton Kamambo led Zifa executive committee who this week sent a get well message for FIFA president Gianni Infantino who tested positive for Covid-19 yet a similar gesture was not extended to Warriors player Kudakwashe Mahachi, neither did they do the same for Bulawayo City, whose five employees tested positive.