CRICKET prided itself as a gentleman’s game when the sport was exclusively played by men, while football is widely known as the beautiful game.
While cricket has continued along that path in Zimbabwe, football has become unrecognisable.
It’s fair to say the senior national cricket team, the Chevrons, have drastically won the hearts of the masses, while football is faced with a serious attendance crisis.
At the present moment, cricket is pulling more crowds than Premier Soccer League teams, and no one can fault them.
The famous section of fans called ‘Castle Corner’ was not always as famous as it is now, and the question is, where were all those fans now forming a buoyant atmosphere at Harare Sports Club and Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Were these people always cricket lovers or something happened and they decided to associate themselves with fun, good organisation and winning.
Even Spain-based Warriors’ forward, Tino Kadewere, bought 100 tickets to give-away on Star FM last week for the Chevrons’ games against Ireland.
It wouldn’t be surprising that even people that don’t understand cricket actually flock to watch the Chevrons’ games just for the vibe.
The Chevrons have proved that no one wants to be associated with mediocrity.
It’s amazing that the Chevrons are pulling bigger crowds than Dynamos, who always boast of having seven million fans, despite poor attendances at their matches in the past few years.
CAPS United are also no match for the Chevrons. Their matches are characterised by echoes of players’ voices calling for the ball due to the empty terraces.
Among the country’s big three PSL clubs, maybe only Highlanders currently compete with the Chevrons.
Veteran commentator, Charles Mabika, said the ZIFA and PSL leadership must have a unity of purpose if they entertain any hopes of reviving the domestic game.
“I think ZIFA and PSL should work hand-in-hand if they really want to bring back the good old days,” said Mabika.
“They should just emulate what’s happening at our Chevrons, and for them to be flying this high, they also went through a lot. They are now on the same page, there’s no bitterness and what we are seeing is exactly what you get when you work as a family.”
ZIFA have implemented the standardisation for domestic coaches and it means the coach and his assistant should be holders of the CAF A coaching badge.
Mabika said the situation is unfair to coaches since the course was last locally held in 2016.
“This is very unfair to the coaches and I really feel for them. ZIFA hasn’t hosted this course for many years and most of the coaches’ earnings don’t allow them to get these badges in foreign countries.
“I think the PSL should also engage ZIFA on behalf of the coaches and extend their grace period. This is grossly unfair to someone like Joey Antipas. Imagine everything he has done for this country and to wake up to the news that he is no longer allowed to sit on the bench.
“It does not only impact his club Chicken Inn, but he is someone who has been keeping pace with FC Platinum and his absence this season means it’s another huge step back.
“This initiative is not coming from FIFA, but from ZIFA, so why don’t PSL talk to ZIFA regarding such issues and it’s not only Antipas, but there are many names like Arthur Tutani, who has helped three different teams to see the light of the Premiership.
“You can’t tell me that these coaches are not PSL material because their qualifications don’t meet what is required.”
Warriors legend and outspoken coach, Moses Chunga, also weighed in.
“We need to think outside the box, and thinking outside the box means we have to abandon everything which is not working for our football,” said Chunga.
“Obviously, PSL need to slash gate charges because there’s no point of charging US$5 when the masses can afford US$1. They need to take a realistic approach.
Chunga also challenged ZIFA to reconsider its decision of pulling the plug on coaches without CAF A coaching badges.
He also questioned ZIFA’s understanding of the term standardisation.
“Standardisation is being looked from a point of view that suits those who are implementing it,” he said.
“Why is it important to push for standardisation of coaches. Do you mean to tell us that all the clubs are following modern trends. Do they all have standard medical testing facilities, stadiums and proper structures.
“I think even those who are pushing for implementation of these measures should also be checked to see if they qualify to be football administrators.
“They are looking for easy targets and it’s unfortunate that the coaches are the victims. They are just asking for the coaches to attain the CAF A, but are they also pushing for the same coaches to get increments.”