Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
ZIFA has approved the request by the Premier Soccer League for a shift in the country’s football season calendar but final approval will have to be made at a Zifa congress that will be held in December.
PSL last week resolved to align the local football season with the new Caf club competitions calendar which was moved from February to December with the new season running from August to May.
Zimbabwe’s season has over the years been running between March and November.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said they were in agreement with PSL’s request but as it is a matter that affects all Zifa affiliates, the matter will be tabled at the Zifa congress that would be held after the elections of the football governing body’s executive committee including president and vice-president.
“As Zifa we are agreeable to the PSL request that we align the football season calendar with that of continental governing body, Caf but this is subject to ratification by the Congress in December. In the meantime, we will be consulting local authorities, our affiliates, stakeholders and other relevant organisations that might be impacted upon by the proposal as we seek to ascertain the feasibility of the proposal,” he said.
Several leagues in Africa that include Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Egypt are already using the August to May calendar.
There has been debate over whether the move will bring positive or negative results considering the country once made an attempt to shift the season dates in 1999 but it did not work out well as most games were washed out as the dates coincide with the country’s rainy season.
Poor infrastructure is seen as the biggest stumbling block to aligning with Caf dates with most stadia not have functional drainage systems which will result in games being moved or washed out while lack of cover for spectators is seen as another huge problem as spectators might decide to stay away from games.
The change will mean all football matches right from the juniors up to the highest tier will change season but most lower league games are played in hard surface grounds that do not have lawns, meaning they might have to play in mud.
Questions have also been raised over whether the local Premiership will be able to compete with the English Premier League and South Africa’s Absa Premier for spectators as many football lovers follow those two leagues.