The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
HOPES of seeing football action this year have been canned after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) could not secure funding for the proposed mini-league tournament.
However, the football authorities are pleased the preparatory period by clubs has given them a clue on how things are going to be under the new normal.
Zifa was granted permission by Government to have the PSL and women’s Super League return to action following the suspension of all football activities early this year as part of measurers to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The competitions were set to have been held under a bio-bubble where all those taking part would be in a secure environment with no contact with the outside world to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
PSL chairman, Farai Jere said they could not secure sponsorship for the envisaged mini-tournament but believes they managed to achieve one of their main objectives which was to get an insight into how they will handle the return of the game.
He said the return of the teams to training has given them an insight into how the whole football family will troop back into the stadiums under the new normal.
“Unfortunately, it was close to year end and companies had exhausted their budgets and could not come on board to assist with financing the tournament.
“We are, however, satisfied with the progress we are making in terms of looking at how the full spectrum of the game will be run when we fully return. Remember, the proposed tournament had not been for the game to be played but also use it as a test case on the how we will be operating under the new normal,” said Jere.
He said they have not had a report of any new cases among teams with those that had tested positive are now returning negative results and training with their teams.
Jere, who is the Caps United president, said clubs are scheduled to conducts tests again tomorrow (Monday).
He said they will make use of the rapid antigen tests which he said cost less than the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests but are more accurate compared to the rapid diagnostic test.
“Players and other personnel working with them will undergo the tests again tomorrow as we monitor the situation.
“I believe teams are religiously following the protocols we set and we have not had any incidents of Covid-19 spreading,” said Jere, adding teams are likely to continue training and only break for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
On Wednesday Zifa wrote to its affiliates enquiring if they were ready to start training in January.
“Following Government’s approval for football to return after the Covid-19 break, the (Zifa) executive committee would like to know if you are prepared to start training on the 4th of January 2021.
“The proposed date for commencement of league programmes is the first week of March in 2021.
“Please bear in mind that the resumption of all football activities is preceded by mandatory Covid-19 testing of all stakeholders, with only Covid-free individuals being allowed to participate, while those found positive should self-isolate,” read a memo from Zifa to all affiliates.
“Football post-Covid-19 brings about new realities for football institutions which you should all brace for. The likelihood of playing in empty stadiums is very high considering that large gatherings are still prohibited.
“Zifa will honour its promise to pay for initial tests for all players as well as paying referees’ fees for the forthcoming season. It is everyone’s responsibility to religiously adhere to standard procedures of operating recommended by the Government, Caf and Fifa.
The only way to convince the Government to gradually allow supporters into the stadiums is by ensuring that football remains Covid free.”