The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
FORMER Highlanders coach, Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu opened a can worms during the burial of football legend Barry Daka last week when he lamented the treatment being accorded to football “legends”.
Zulu tore into Bosso, Zifa and Bulawayo City Council for failing to give due respect to Daka for the stellar service he gave to football. Tsano’s emotional tirade stirred on the treatment given to legends particularly entry at football games and who actually deserves to be called a legend.
In Zimbabwe the term legend in football circles has become ubiquitous to refer to any former players, something that has become a sticking point with most people arguing that is not the case. Clear definition of a legend has eluded the football fraternity and the debate still rages on.
Premier Soccer League chief executive officer, Kennedy Ndebele said there is a need to craft rules and regulations on how to approach the legends issue and as the PSL, clubs would have to agree on a formula that would be used to allocate privilege cards to legends.
“What we have to acknowledge is that not every former player is a legend and this becomes the starting point of coming up with the criteria of who is eligible to be on that list. This is not an issue that individual clubs should be blamed for because in every institution, even in England, Italy or Spain, has rules around privilege cards. Clubs will have to meet as PSL and meet on how we structure the facility and adopt it as it would be impossible to grant over 400 privilege cards,” he said.
Ndebele said at the moment clubs are allocated 25 cards but they have also been granting them complimentary tickets.
He said it was unfortunate some people who were granted complimentary tickets for last week’s Castle Challenge Cup ended up allegedly selling the tickets hence there was a need to ensure the facility would not be abused.
Ndebele said they appreciated the role played by legends and would be working on ensuring they are able to watch games but it would not be practical to have 700 people claiming legends’ status.
Zifa Southern Region chairman, Andrew Tapela concurred with Ndebele saying it was an issue that should be dealt with at a higher level and as a region they would be taking the matter to the Zifa Congress as it is not a matter for individual clubs.
He said it would be easier for Zifa to provide guidelines and issue accreditation cards for the legends as an honour for their efforts towards the game.
“It is an issue that does not need to be approached with emotion but we have to be rational about it, take it to congress have it discussed there and we implement it from there. It is not just Tsano who is concerned about this as we were having our own conversations around the issue. We, however, have to admit that not every former player is a legend, there has to be a set criterion on who qualifies for this honour,” he said.
Victoria Falls-based football administrator, Morgan “Gazza” Dube said creation of Hall of Fames by both clubs and local authorities would have a major impact in honouring the legends. He said it was also critical for the former players to assume leadership positions in various spheres so they can influence decisions pertaining to according footballers the status they deserve.
“Clubs should have Hall of Fames of their own as it is a simple way to honour those who give excellent services to them and the same goes for cities and towns. Once a player has retired from the game, they can seek to be part of policy decision making bodies like Zifa, PSL, councils and even go to Parliament. Once they are part of those bodies it would be easier to lobby for the improved treatment of legends,” said Dube.
He said clubs should also strive to acquire their own stadia so that they could have full control, which would make it easier for them to reward their former players including naming some stands after them. Dube was also of the opinion that not every former player is a legend and there is a need to clearly separate the two.