Soc­cer cal­en­dar change on course

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Mehluli Sibanda Se­nior Sports Re­porter

MOVES to align Zim­babwe’s do­mes­tic foot­ball sea­son with the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar are well on course with the Pre­mier Soc­cer League push­ing for that to hap­pen, with the po­si­tion on the ex­act way for­ward to be clear af­ter 16 De­cem­ber.

PSL chair­man, Farai Jere in­di­cated that they are hard at work to ensure that the change in the coun­try’s foot­ball sea­son is in sync with what is pre­vail­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally where leagues kick off in Au­gust and con­clude in May goes ahead. Jere be­lieves that Zim­babwe can gain a lot by chang­ing their sea­son in the form of hav­ing re­gional competitions dur­ing the off-sea­son.

“Ev­ery­thing is on course, we are work­ing on it flat out and we re­ally want to push it to go through. We need to align, there are a lot of ad­van­tages, align­ment of our sea­son with other leagues, it can also al­low us to have re­gional tour­na­ments dur­ing the off-sea­son, it can also make us at­tract other teams from Europe,’’ Jere said.

On how ex­actly the change of sea­son would be im­ple­mented, Jere said there is a plan in place to make sure that PSL teams play foot­ball until May be­fore go­ing off sea­son prior to the start of the league in Au­gust.

“We have got our own way of do­ing it, we are not go­ing to split the teams into two groups, what we have done is as a bridg­ing mea­sure, we are go­ing to have two tour­na­ments which we are go­ing to play, one of them is go­ing to be a knock-out and the other one we are go­ing to put the Pre­mier Soc­cer League teams into three groups, they compete home and away then we take the top two and the third best run­ner-up around May, that’s when we hope to fin­ish that bridg­ing pro­gramme,’’ said Jere.

Ac­cord­ing to Jere, the spon­sors as well as the Zim­babwe Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion have raised no ob­jec­tions to the change in the lo­cal foot­ball cal­en­dar, with what is left now be­ing to ensure that the clubs give their ap­proval.

“There is a plan in place, the spon­sors have given it a thumbs up, Zifa have given it a thumbs up, so what is left now is to meet be­cause it’s a con­sti­tu­tional mat­ter, our con­sti­tu­tion says our leagues starts from April to the end of the year. We need to align with Di­vi­sion One and Two teams, we are go­ing to have the fi­nal po­si­tion af­ter Congress on the 16th of De­cem­ber,’’ he said.

On the poor drainage sys­tem at most of the ma­jor grounds in the coun­try, Jere said with advances in tech­nol­ogy, there is no way that should be an is­sue in this day and age.

“We can­not keep on talk­ing about drainage where there is tech­nol­ogy in this day and age, hon­estly try­ing to put a drainage sys­tem to take wa­ter out and we say it’s a cri­sis so where are we go­ing as hu­man be­ings. Let’s play foot­ball in the wa­ter for peo­ple to wake up to sort out that prob­lem,’’ Jere said.

Since most of the fa­cil­i­ties do not have cov­ered ter­races which ex­pose the fans to the harsh weather con­di­tions, Jere gave the ex­am­ple of Europe which has ex­tended win­ters with snow some­times fall­ing. He be­lieves that hu­man be­ings can­not fail to find a way around na­ture.

“In Europe they have got long win­ter pe­ri­ods but fans go to the sta­di­ums, let’s not be slaves of na­ture, if we be­come slaves of na­ture and want to be in the com­fort zone, we won’t change, in Europe they have got snow, the peo­ple go watch foot­ball, let’s change, let’s be in the murky wa­ters, we can come out,’’ he said.

Moves by lo­cal foot­ball au­thor­i­ties to change the do­mes­tic sea­son comes af­ter the

Con­fed­erat ion of African Foot­ball ad­justed their club competitions to run from Septem­ber to May. Zam­bia re­cently an­nounced their own tran­si­tional plan as they also aligned their do­mes­tic foot­ball sea­son with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. The same will hap­pen in Kenya, which has put Zim­babwe un­der pres­sure to also mod­ify their foot­ball cal­en­dar. South Africa and Botswana have their leagues start­ing in Au­gust and end­ing in May.

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