Confusion mars women football restart

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

THE resumption of women football has been marred by confusion with several clubs claiming they  are still in the dark on the  actual date of the restart.

While the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) greenlighted the resumption of high-risk sport codes including men and women football three weeks ago after a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no concrete steps have been taken for  the recommencement of women football.

This is in sharp contrast to men’s football, where the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has already set the timelines for resumption while several clubs have already conducted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and embarked on full training.

Men’s football is expected to kick off on May 16 under a cluster format, a cost-cutting measure for clubs considering fans will not be allowed into the stadia in line with World Health Organisation safety protocols.

The PSL had requested US$100 000 for COVID-19 testing from Zifa, but with the football association which had offered to assist clubs with the initial testing rounds yet to commit itself, clubs have decided to foot the bill hoping they would be reimbursed.

However, this has left women football in a dilemma.

Midlands State University sports officer Patience Mutumwa said they were in a difficult situation as they did not know how to plan or budget without the date of resumption.

“We are in a kind of tricky situation because nothing has been communicated to us with regards to the date of resumption. We don’t know whether we will get funding from Zifa, but even if we conduct the PCR tests and start training, we don’t know for how long we will train because there are no dates when the league action will resume,” she said.

Mutumwa added: “We also don’t know if we are using the cluster format and if so, which clubs are in which cluster. So it makes planning and budgeting difficult. Under normal circumstances, Zifa usually reimburses the money used, but they only give you a fraction, not the entire amount you have used, so we will just wait to hear from them.”

Swallows’ Talent Chitsaka said they were still waiting for the mother body to come up with a specified list of requirements for the resumption of the league.

“I will give you a comprehensive response, but in the meantime, we are still waiting for a specified list of requirements for football restart,” he said.

Women football boss Barbara Chikosi said they would be guided by the outcome of the meeting with Zifa scheduled for today.

“I cant give you a proper response until after the meeting with Zifa tomorrow (today),” she said.

The local soccer-controlling body last year received a COVID-19 relief package from world soccer governing body, Fifa, with US$500 000 earmarked for women footballers, which observers believe could have been used for women football restart.

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