Inside Sport: Zifa offside on National First Division League

Acting ZIFA president Gift Banda

THE decision by the Zifa board to introduce a National First Division League — at this moment — does not make sense considering a lot of factors.

One would be forced to feel a measure of sympathy for the leadership of the four first-division regions who are arguing that Zifa are not thinking straight for various reasons.

Surely, the Zifa board cannot just wake up to tell the regions to abandon their sponsors, most of whom have been loyal even during this time of a harsh economic climate?

It is also a joke if not laughable to say that the National First Division will help improve the standards of Zimbabwean football when in fact what Zimbabwe needs is a well-oriented junior development programme.

Let us not forget that the introduction of this league has been hanging since 2013, which means all successive Zifa leaders that came and went saw that it was not an urgent matter and probably impossible.

In this age of economic meltdown, most of the clubs earmarked for this competition do not have the financial resources to embark on this venture considering the fact that they had already budgeted to play in the regions they come from.

It does not need a soothsayer or a rocket scientist to tell that the clubs Zifa have targeted do not have the capacity to travel from Mutare to Victoria Falls or Beitbridge to Kariba and research would have told them so.

Tenax, for example, struggled to pay their affiliation fees when they were promoted into the Premier Soccer League and to expect them to make journeys to Beitbridge, Hwange, and Victoria Falls on top of countless trips to Bulawayo would be expecting too much from them.

More importantly, is the fact that Zifa cannot just wake up to impose this National League on the clubs without telling them who the sponsor of the competition would be and the merits of taking part in the contest.

This whole National First Division League thing also affects not only the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, but also the second divisions who were not consulted with regard to relegation and promotion.

For example, if four teams are to be relegated from the National First Division League and all of them happen to be those invited from the eastern region, how will they be accommodated in the Second Division, which already has a space for only two teams?

The formation of the National First Division League would also mean a complete overhaul of Zimbabwean football, including the formation of national leagues in Division Two going downwards, which at the moment looks impossible.

The truth is that the Zifa Board are lost by thinking that what the Zifa Restructuring Committee recommended is a must-do when these were merely recommendations, which can either be implemented or rejected.

In fact, the Zifa board does not have the power to impose the National First Division League on the clubs, but it is the Zifa Assembly that has authority over such issues.

What the Gift Banda-led leadership is forgetting is that at one time Zimbabwe had two first divisions, one in the southern region and the other in the northern region.

During those days, clubs from Kwekwe up to Victoria Falls and Beitbridge played in the southern region while those from Kadoma going up to Kariba and Mutare played in the northern region.

This system was abandoned in favour of the existing four first divisions in order to make it easier and cheaper for clubs to travel to fulfil matches.

Sadly, Zifa seems to be dragging us backwards to a system which Zimbabwean football abandoned long back because it was expensive even when the economy was sound.

There is nothing wrong in being seen to be doing something but seeking relevance especially, with the wrong issues sometimes has disastrous consequences.

The National First Division League is an issue that needs a lot of time on how it can be implemented and Zifa needs to be organised, instead of doing their things haphazardly.

We have been told that the Zifa assembly will soon be meeting and should they reject the National First Division League, it should not be taken as a rebellion against Banda, but a stance based on what they believe is right.

At the moment, Zifa can continue to dream about this National First Division League, but in reality this dream will take ages to become a reality.

  • For your views, comments, and suggestions, [email protected] or WhatsApp on 0773 266 779.

Related Topics

Sparkling Gems qualify for Netball World Cup
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022
‘Zim film culture bad’
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022
Inside sport: Is Dynamos a community team?
By The Southern Eye Aug. 28, 2022