Sunday News (Zimbabwe)

Soccer calendar change on course

- 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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