By Trevor Makonyonga
Highlanders Football Club will play FC Platinum in the newly formed Castle Challenge Cup at Bulawayo’s Barbourfields stadium.
What this means is the PSL season is upon us.
Barbourfields is the one facility that Zimbabwe has that is close to a ‘standard’ stadium.
There are critical answers still to be given on whether Chapungu or Herentials will be in the league and the most important one being where the matches will be played.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) are set to make a decision on whether to uphold the ban on Herentials Football Club on allegations of match fixing on March 20. Prior to the hearing, Herentials owner, Innocent Benza had been helping out on stadium renovations at Barbourfields.
The conflict of interest being evident, it remains to be seen whether ZIFA will offer an uncompromised ruling given that Benza is the association’s partner. It’s fair to also point out that the PSL had offered a decision based on hearsay and without proper investigations.
The challenge here will be if ZIFA rule against the PSL, no matter how justified they are, their ruling might be considered a “bought” and botched decision.
If they uphold the PSL verdict then they risk losing a partner. Either way the decision that will be made has to be good for Zimbabwe Football.
The issue that seems to be getting tongues wagging at the moment is that of appalling sporting facilities. The culture that has been bred in Zimbabwe at the moment seems to promote the dilapidation of the once majestic arenas.
This past week, Zimbabwe hosted Syria for Davis Cup at the Harare Sports Club. The event went well by the existing substandards in the country and the atmosphere could have been more electrifying had it been in a closed City Sports Centre. To think that Andre Agassi played in the City Sports Centre in his prime and to look at where the court is now do not match.
Two months ago, Zimbabwe hosted Madagascar and Zambia in a Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) Afrobasket qualifier at the City Sports Centre.
Despite performing dismally, the quality of the court was humiliating. It helped to get the job done yet at the expense of the reputation of the country. Zimbabwe had another international team visiting at the Harare Sports Club.
Sri Lanka played two test matches against the hosts. There, Sikandar Raza felt undone because there were two seeming lbw shouts on the plum that were turned down. Had there been the review system at the venue maybe the result would have come out different.
The issue of grounds has only been now brought to the attention of the whole country because everyone’s dear soccer is involved. Like every other sport, if our players are going to be using bad facilities for local games, how then can we expect to perform at the international stage?
Another thing to look at is the safety of the players. If the grounds they are going to be playing on are condemned injuries are inevitable.
Zimbabwe has seen some great talents perish as a result of these facilities and health care. Elsewhere in the world, Desmond Maringwa, Eddie Mashiri, Johannes Ngodzo and Samson Choruwa could have had better careers. Now with no ablution facilities, bad grounds and a dysfunctional health care system, the players and fans are at a bigger risk. It could be wiser to use this COVID-19 issue as a scapegoat to sort out the impending issues. The ZIFA stadium inspection committee led by Xolisani Gwesela has to be factual enough to improve our game. It could be wiser to suspend all premier soccer league activities till the grounds issues are sorted but because there is need to be relevant and to feel important, this might never happen. In a nutshell nothing looks set to improve anytime soon.