BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
LOCAL football has resumed following a seven-month COVID-19-induced break after the Sport, Youth, Arts and Recreation ministry through the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) yesterday gave the premier league, women league and national teams the greenlight to resume activities albeit under strict guidelines.
The latest development will also see the adoption of the mini-league format using the bubble concept, instead of the usual 34-match Castle Lager Premier Soccer League competition.
Football activity was suspended in mid-March barely a week before the local league started when the virus broke out in the country.
The resumption of football in the country this year had remained in doubt until last week when the Sports ministry allowed the Warriors to travel to Malawi for a friendly match.
It also gave league champions FC Platinum permission to begin training for the Caf champions league competition, which begins next month.
SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho wrote to Zifa to communicate the latest development.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) hereby gives you notice, following your application, that the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation approved the gradual and phased resumption of football activities effective October 16, 2020 in line with the provisions of Statutory Instrument 2020,” the communiqué addressed to Zifa general secretary Joseph Mamutse read.
“Please note that the approval at this stage is for the following: premier league teams, women soccer league teams and national soccer teams,” added the letter.
Zimbabwe had remained closed to football activity as other countries in the region opened up in the past few months, with doubt hanging over the ability of local clubs to finance the required regular testing of players and staff.
But with a number of international assignments on the horizon such as the Cosafa Women’s Championships and the Afcon qualifiers set for next month as well as the African Nations Championship finals to take place in January, it became imperative for football activity to resume.
The SRC revealed that club competitions will follow the mini-league in bio bubble format which was proposed by the Sports ministry last month.
“The resumption of football activities shall take the format of the mini-league using the bubble concept adopted by yourselves. The football activities shall, in addition to the requirements specified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for safe resumption of sport, Statutory Instrument 200 ode 2020, your submitted protocols, other legislation and policy directives relating to the prevention and containment of COVID-19, be subject to the following conditions.
Strict adherence to the bubble concept
Implementation of standard operating procedures
Zifa and its affiliates to provide resources and finances to undertake
“We reiterate that this is a phased approach to resumption of football activities in the country. Assessments will be done during the initial stage on whether or not all provisions are in place and adherence to set protocols in order to inform the complete resumption of all football activities .
“Please note that all the protocols for the prevention and containment of COVID-19 must be observed at all times and SRC expects strict and full compliance by all your