The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
A YOUTH football tournament to be hosted by Aston Villa midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba’s foundation is set to go ahead in a fortnight after being cleared by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
The SRC has only cleared topflight football in the form of the Chibuku Super Cup with all other lower leagues and juniors still to return to the pitch. The Marvelous Nakamba Foundation Youth Invitation Tournament, scheduled for 19 and 20 June, is set to feature eight teams from across the country and will be held in Bulawayo.
Zifa communications and competitions manager, Xolisani Gwesela confirmed the competition had been given the green light following the application they made to the supreme sports body.
“The tournament has been cleared and will go ahead as scheduled but the tournament organisers will have to meet the standard operating protocols that have been stipulated by the SRC. Only Zifa affiliated teams are eligible to take part in the tournament,” he said.
Zifa Bulawayo chairman, Francis Ntuta, whose board is working in conjunction with the MNF to organise the tourney, said they were elated with the response and are ready to host the inaugural edition of the event which they envisage will grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years. He said they are ready to meet all the stipulated protocols to ensure the event is hosted in a safe environment.
Teams that have been invited for this year’s tournament include Highlanders, Dynamos, Njube Spurs, Hwange Dynamo, Albun Academy, Bulawayo City, Ajax Hot Spurs and Chicken Inn. Only players aged 17 and below will be eligible to take part in the tournament.
Ntuta said the foundation has committed to meeting the costs that will arise from implementing the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures including testing of all those involved. He said they are hoping to use the tournament as a springboard to the resumption of both lower leagues and junior football.
According to the tournament rules, the teams shall be placed in two groups of four with matches being played in a round-robin format and the two top teams in each group will proceed to the semi-finals. Pool A winners will play Pool B runners-up and vice versa in the semis with the winners proceeding to the finals. The organisers will provide kits to be used during the tourney.
MNF said they wanted to give the tournament a national outlook hence bringing in teams from outside the city.