Tag: lockdown

Local Football Set To Bounce Back

ZIFA president Felton Kamambo yesterday said the football mother body were today expected to start formal engagements with the Sports and Recreation Commission to push for the return of the Premier Soccer League next month as a back-up plan ahead of the resumption of international football in November. 

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CAF announced the AFCON qualifiers were scheduled to resume between November 9-17 this year.

And, this means the long awaited back-to-back clash between Zimbabwe and Algeria, is likely to take place under these difficult conditions.

The bulk of Zimbabwe’s players ply their trade in foreign leagues.

The association risk failing to raise a competitive team if the domestic league remains in limbo.

“I am sure you are aware that FIFA have said teams are not obliged to release players for the qualifiers and, so, we have to have a back-up plan for that,’’ said Kamambo.

“In case we fail to get most of our players, then the local-based players will have to step in.

“But, the problem is that they haven’t been playing football. It was not possible to start the domestic league this year because of the lockdown restrictions.

“Football was also classified among the high risk sports.

“Our wish is for the domestic teams to start training, by end of September, in anticipation of the new season.

“In fact, the date we have in mind is 14 September, so that the league begins mid-October but, again, it all depends on the advice from the stakeholders.’’

The 2020 Castle Lager Premiership failed to start in March because of the lockdown measures.

Premier Soccer League chief executive, Kenny Ndebele said clubs were desperate to start training.

Ndebele acknowledged the introduction of the curfew had pegged them back, in terms of plans they had, for a September start to the season.

But the PSL chief urged the game’s leaders come out of their shells and put in place protocols to be tabled before Government for football’s safe return.

“We were hoping that the pandemic would be under control by August but, when the Government tightened the lockdown by introducing the curfew, we also had to slow down our push for a restart.

“We have been trying to understand and assess the situation on the ground.

“But, to be honest, the whole domestic football family went on sleep mode and there was no action,’’ Ndebele said.

ZIFA have set up a medical committee to help them draw up a strategy for the safe return of the game.

The authorities are being guided by the Government and health experts in their plans.

They are also taking notes from CAF’s 27-page document titled ‘CAF Guidelines to Resume Football in Africa.’

The document emphasizes on the health of the major stakeholders who include players, officials, fans, and other partners.

“There have been some engagements going on with the Sports Communication but we are looking to begin the official communication tomorrow (today),’’ said Kamambo.

‘’We are hoping that the medical committee would be through with their document to be presented to SRC.

“We were also hoping to conduct random tests on players, for a start, and use that as a gauge to see the impact the disease might have had on the players and officials.

“We are still going to be conducting the tests, while engagements with the SRC and Government continue.

“Resources have been set aside for that from the FIFA Covid-19 relief funds.

“We had to take this decision to push for the return of football after consultations with our various affiliates.

“Indications from the regions, when we did the consultations, were that we start next year but PSL indicated they wanted to start right away.

“And, like I indicated, we need to start preparing for the AFCON.

“We hope that the coach (Zdravko Logarusic) would have returned from his home in Croatia by the time the league starts.’’

ZIFA are also hoping to make use of the FIFA international friendly dates to prepare for the Warriors’ AFCON assignments. FIFA have set the week of October 7-15 as the official dates for international matches.

DeMbare Bemoan Low Supporters’ T-Shirt Sales

The Dynamos Supporters’ T-Shirts which hit the market a few months ago have received poor response from the fans.

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The royal blue branded T-shirts (pictured) were launched in February during the signing of the four-year sales agreement between Dynamos and their sponsor through the Remmington Gold brand.

Before that, Dynamos had begun exploring ways to enhance brand visibility, through merchandise sales, particularly the club’s replica jerseys and branded T-shirts.

DeMbare’s official home-and-away jerseys will be on sale when the season gets underway but merchandise like the royal blue supporters’ shirts are already on sale at US$10 each.

However the supporters’ shirts have been hit by poor uptake.

Club Executive Chairman Isaiah Mupfurutsa said the supporters, who make up the market, have been struggling under the effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

“The uptake has been very low and I think it’s because of a number of factors emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, the financial constraints on the part of the supporters,” said Mupfurutsa.

“I think we all appreciate the world is going through unusual times.

“Many Zimbabweans are informally employed and, because of the coronavirus restrictions, some may have found it difficult to spare an extra dollar for the merchandise.

“Secondly, the league hasn’t started yet and the fact that people are not going to the stadium, for football matches, it tends to affect the appetite for replicas.

“When games are being played, and the team is winning, the fans would want to buy and try to identify with their team.

“It’s a chance for the team to boost income but we are not realising the revenue from the merchandise, as per the projections we had made, because everything is on standstill because of the coronavirus.”

But some supporters have raised concern over the quality of the T-shirts which they claim does not justify the US$10 price tag, while some said they would rather wait for the actual replica jerseys.

Mupfurutsa is confident the replicas plus the playing kits will arrive soon.

“We are sure they will be ready by the time the season starts. We have also made provisions for the playing kits, in case the authorities give the greenlight to start playing football, and the consignment is delayed.’’

The Harare giants have said the products will all be sold to the club’s fans and the general public.

The merchandise will be distributed through designated distribution agents, comprising sports shops, restaurants and food courts, service stations, licensed vendors, departmental/chain stores, wholesalers and club offices.

Mupfurutsa said the club have put in place measures to fight piracy and the sale of cheap, counterfeit merchandise by bogus dealers who have been making money at the expense of the club.

“We were in the final stages of registering of patents. But that, as well, was affected by the lockdown.

“That process was on its final stages and once we are done with that we will have a legal basis to fight piracy and the distribution and sale of counterfeits.

“We will be protected by the law and anyone found on the wrong side will be penalised by the law,” said Mupfurutsa.

Dembare Warn Money Game Players

DYNAMOS have warned that their players risk being slapped with heavy fines if they are caught engaging in money games or violating the Covid-19 lockdown rules.

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Coach Tonderayi Ndiraya said the club will not hesitate to hit players hard in the pocket if they are found on the wrong side of the lockdown rules, saying such acts not only tarnished the image of Dynamos, but their sponsor and the nation as a whole.

“I am glad to say that we have been very fortunate, we got a sponsor who is taking care of the boys and we wouldn’t want to disappoint that sponsor by engaging in these money game activities because it indeed paints a very bad picture. Our players are taken very good care of and that is the reason why I say we will hit their pockets if they engage in money games,” said Ndiraya.

DeMbare are bankrolled by tobacco company Rudland and George, a subsidiary of Gold Leaf Tobacco.

Sporting activities across the country were suspended indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world, but early this month, the Government cleared 15 sports classified as low risk to resume activities.

However, football and other contact sports remain under lock, forcing some players, especially those based in Harare, to engage in money games in blatant defiance of lockdown orders.

Ndiraya said while it was acceptable that life has not been the same for footballers and followers, it must never be taken as an excuse to engage in criminal activities. He said in order to keep their players fit, they were conducting physical training exercises using the virtual Zoom application.

Under the lockdown rules, any person who violates the orders is liable to arrest.

“It has really been difficult for these boys. We have just been doing physical work and nothing else. In the end they end up being involved in these money games, but we have been talking to them and stressing home the point that while things are certainly not normal, rules are rules and we are in this together. It’s something which is affecting everyone and such rules just have to be followed.

“We have therefore gone on further to impose fines so that our boys comply. You can’t be seen to be violating lockdown rules, it won’t be good for us as a nation, it won’t be good for us as a big institution.

“We are role models to people out there and they (people) must be seen to be following what we do and if we violate lockdown rules, what does that mean? This is what we have been talking about to our boys, but of course, in a group you will always find different characters. There are some who are really naughty and those are the ones we are really sitting on,” said Ndiraya.