FC Plat­inum set the bar high

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Opinion -

A MBITIOUS Zvisha­vane side FC Plat­inum are liv­ing a dream af­ter they sealed an­other suc­cess­ful sea­son by win­ning the big­gest prize in do­mes­tic foot­ball, the Cas­tle Lager Pre­mier­ship ti­tle.

For the sec­ond year run­ning, the plat­inum min­ers have been crowned the foot­ball kings of Zim­babwe.

What makes this feat remarkable is that they have won this year’s race with two games to spare in a league that has been de­cided on the last day of the sea­son for the past nine years.

The last time the cham­pi­onship was wrapped up with at least a game to spare was in 2009 when Gun­ners FC, then coached by Zim­babwe le­gend Moses Chunga, shook off the chal­lenge of gi­ants Dy­namos in the penul­ti­mate game of the sea­son.

FC Plat­inum have done well un­der Norman Mapeza in the last five years as they have grown grad­u­ally with cor­re­spond­ing results from a top four fin­ish in 2014 to num­ber three in 2015 and then sec­ond place in 2016.

With their level of or­gan­i­sa­tion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism, it looks like the dom­i­nance they have demon­strated in the last two years could take long to break.

In fact, they are on course for a record points haul this sea­son if they win their last two games against Ngezi Plat­inum and High­landers.

Last year, they won their maiden cham­pi­onship with 72 points, but they have since sur­passed that mark af­ter hop­ping to 74 points with two games re­main­ing.

CAPS United hold the record for the high­est points tally in a sea­son, hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated 79 points dur­ing the 2004 sea­son.

If Pure Plat­inum Play win their re­main­ing two fix­tures, then they will hit the un­prece­dented 80-point mark.

FIFA have wasted no time in send­ing their con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage, with pres­i­dent of the world foot­ball mother body Gianni In­fantino dis­patch­ing a warm note to the new cham­pi­ons this week via ZIFA.

And the ques­tion beck­ons: Is this the be­gin­ning of a revo­lu­tion to mark a shift in the bal­ance of power from the tra­di­tional Big Three

- Dy­namos, CAPS United and High­landers - to the well-or­gan­ised cor­po­rate-owned teams?

What ex­actly have they been do­ing right that the other teams are fail­ing to do?

FC Plat­inum are one of the few lo­cal teams that have gone the dis­tance in try­ing to meet the strict re­quire­ments un­der the CAF Club Li­cens­ing sys­tem.

While most of the teams, in­clud­ing the Big Three, are still show­ing signs of re­sis­tance, the plat­inum min­ers have been taking huge strides in im­ple­ment­ing the reg­u­la­tions which help de­velop foot­ball in line with global stan­dards.

Among other things, the CAF Club Li­cens­ing sys­tem seeks to de­velop sport­ing in­fra­struc­ture, im­prov­ing the fi­nan­cial ca­pac­ity of clubs, en­hanc­ing the pro­fes­sion­al­ism, cul­ti­vate ad­min­is­tra­tive ca­pac­i­ties and also main­tain­ing con­tin­u­ous de­vel­op­ment of grass­roots talent.

Un­like most of the lo­cal teams that do not have sta­di­ums to call their own, FC Plat­inum have done well by ren­o­vat­ing Man­dava Sta­dium into a so­phis­ti­cated fa­cil­ity that is ca­pa­ble of hoist­ing in­ter­na­tional matches.

In terms of cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, they have been set­ting the pace. They have well-de­fined struc­tures that have al­ways de­liv­ered sound ad­min­is­tra­tion and good foot­ball de­ci­sions.

They have made mis­takes along the way but they learnt tough lessons from their gaffes. Just like their less ex­pe­ri­enced “plat­inum cousins’’ Ngezi Plat­inum, who re­cently fired coach Ton­derai Ndi­raya at a cru­cial phase and with dire con­se­quences, FC Plat­inum also con­tem­plated sack­ing their coach Mapeza at one stage.

But af­ter in­vest­ing in the for­mer Zim­babwe cap­tain and giv­ing him a long-term con­tract the results have shown and Mapeza has re­paid that trust shown in him.

The de­vel­op­ments of the last two sea­sons should demon­strate to all in do­mes­tic foot­ball in­clud­ing in those in the lower leagues that suc­cess can­not come overnight.

It is a re­sult of mas­sive in­vest­ment in time, hard work, dis­ci­pline, skills and re­sources.

Mi­mosa Mines must also be com­mended for set­ting up a spe­cial busi­ness ve­hi­cle - FC Plat­inum Hold­ings - to cater for the spon­sor­ship of the foot­ball club and cush­ion­ing it from the fi­nan­cial bur­dens that weigh down most of the PSL teams.

And now they can stand tall and chal­lenge the long-stand­ing hege­mony of the coun­try’s Big Three who share 32 ti­tles among them.

FC Plat­inum’s suc­cess story has also served as a re­al­ity check for Dy­namos, High­landers and CAPS United, who have been bask­ing in past his­tory and would now have to change their ways if they are to re­tain their dom­i­nance.

Dy­namos have not won the league in the last four years, CAPS United were cham­pi­ons just two years ago while High­landers last won the ti­tle 12 years ago.

A clear tes­ti­mony of how wise in­vest­ment pays off is that where FC Plat­inum have been pop­ping the champagne to cel­e­brate an­other cham­pi­onship, Dy­namos have had to deal with the ig­nominy of fight­ing against rel­e­ga­tion.

But it is not just Dy­namos, High­landers and CAPS United who should draw lessons from FC Plat­inum’s Cinderella story, it should be an ex­am­ple to all the clubs.

Our Pre­mier­ship needs to re­tain its com­pet­i­tive edge and at­tract the huge crowds that used to grace sta­di­ums over the years.

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