PSL players risk sanctions

Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya

Premier Soccer League (PSL) players are risking both the full wrath of the country’s laws as well as sanctions from their clubs following their involvement in dawn training sessions that involve full contact eleven aside matches in violation of the 21-day national lockdown rules.

By Kevin Mapasure

Clubs have lost control of their players due to lockdown rules imposed as measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which restrict movement and gatherings.

Topflight teams have designed individual training programmes for players during the lockdown period, but due to lack of space in some of the places the players live, they cannot do effective training and players from different clubs come together every morning in places such as Kambuzuma and Mabvuku.

Players from teams such as Dynamos, Harare City, Ngezi Platinum Stars, Triangle, Cranborne Bullets and Black Rhinos have been involved in the training sessions and matches.

Players fear that they might lose out on their fitness if they stay at home and the dawn sessions are meant for them to keep in shape.

However, large crowds were gathering to watch some of the top division stars in action.

Clubs have restricted players from playing full contact matches as they wait for the start of the new season particularly for fear that some of them might sustain injuries that could end up prejudicing the teams.

It was alleged that one Dynamos star was participating in money games in Mabvuku, but sources dismissed the allegations saying they were mere training matches.

DeMbare yesterday launched their own investigation into the matter with coach Tonderai Ndiraya promising to take action against those that would have broken the rules.

“We gave our players individual training programmes that they must follow during this lockdown. I have asked someone and have been told that the players do morning training sessions from around 5am, but the problem is that we do not allow them to engage in full contact matches, so we are investigating on our side and some people could be punished,” Ndiraya told NewsDay Sport.

While PSL professionals have confined themselves only to training matches, Division One players have over the last couple of weeks been involved in money games as they seek both to keep fit and a little bit of income during the lockdown period.

Footballers, like everyone else in the country, are waiting and wondering what will happen after the three-week lockdown imposed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa elapses on Sunday.

There have been suggestions that the lockdown will be extended, but Mnangagwa dismissed the “fake news” saying the government was yet to do an assessment.

If the lockdown is extended, it will further diminish hope of having a full league programme this year.
PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele has warned that there might actually be no football this year due to the ravaging pandemic.

By yesterday evening, Zimbabwe’s number of infected individuals stood at 18 with three deaths and one recovery.
All African countries have suspended their leagues except for Burundi where they have continued, but players are not allowed to hug and cuddle for goal celebrations.

Zambia has since suspended its league programmes even though there is no lockdown in effect.

Zimbabwean clubs are hoping to return to training next week in preparation for the new season.

The PSL is confident that they could run a full programme if they begin next month, but they might have to forfeit the Chibuku Super Cup in order to run a full league programme, while also accommodating continental club competitions and the national team.