. . . mini-league format proposed
Rest Mutore, Sports Reporter
THERE is hope to the resumption of football in the country this year.
Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry said they are working closely with the game’s custodians to bring “relief to the players and the country” from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the suspension of local leagues with a week before kickoff in March, there has not been a clear roadmap on the way forward.
And addressing sports journalists in Harare on Monday, Minister Coventry said she is happy with the progress that has been made so far and an announcement should be expected next week.
The Minister said they have written back to Zifa seeking clarification on some issues as well as adding input on what could be done after the later sought a nod to resume football.
It also emerged during the briefing that there are plans of resuming football in form of a mini-league.
“We have written some proposals to Zifa and PSL to look through some concepts. We are quite excited with everything and we are leaving it to the technocrats.
“Zifa have followed all of the procedures as most of national associations who have written to the SRC with their medical doctors, that, this is how they will do it with all the guidelines and structures.
“That includes the medical taskforce and that was sent to my office for recommendations and we worked through it and we went back to them saying what about this, and in addition to that (how about this) and that is where we are now.
“We will be able to announce sometime next week when the board has discussed, I just need to be respectful to everyone,” said Minister Coventry.
The Minister said they are few issues they have asked Zifa to clarify related to the medical guidelines – particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“On the application from Zifa, there are a few recommendations to Zifa, a few clarifications on the medical side. We just want to understand more and those questions have come from my office to understand all the protocols because as a Minister I need to understand and also answer questions,” added Coventry.
Questions, however, have been raised on the viability of the proposal given the expenses that comes with such an arrangement.
The return of football will possibly see players isolated from the outside world using bio-bubble and also the test kits and personal protective equipment.
“This is where we are asking everyone to be patient because those are the things that we are in discussion with (Zifa) now. How would it cost, how the is the modality, there is a lot of questions in terms of the concepts I have asked to the technocrats specifically, how much is this, is it even feasible?
“So we have to have those discussions and that’s why I was saying give us this week to have those discussions and come up with a more affirmative plan and idea that got a buy from everyone around the table, then we would be able to give everyone a breakdown of how we think it would work. What will it be then, in terms of investment for financial support. What will that look like. Everyone I think around the table has the same goal to bring relief to some of our players and our country, mental relief from Covid-19,” she said.
Zifa president Felton Kamambo, who also attended the press briefing, preached the message of hope saying ‘what you have been missing is coming back’
Kamambo said his association is happy with the proposal – which includes considering the format of a mini-league.
“We are happy with the proposal; we will look at it. What you have been missing is coming back and it’s an exciting proposal.
“The ministry through SRC has recommended a mini-league, then Zifa and PSL will look at that and come back to the Minister and it will then be made public.
After getting the approval, we will sit with all the affiliates and it’s up to the affiliates to come up with a date on their resumption. So what we want from the Ministry now is a blanket approval, then PSL can then sit down and work out their plan.