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Footballers call for the return of soccer

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Trevor Makonyonga

Zimbabwean football players have called on the responsible authorities to bring back the game with most of them citing livelihood challenges brought up by the inactivity of the game.

Football stopped when the country’s sporting activities were put to a halt in March of 2020 during the country’s first covid-19 induced lockdown. Sice then, only FC Platinum together with the country’s national teams have been given exemptions to compete in clubs and national football competitions.

Speaking to Bustop TV, Chicken Inn forward Valentine Kadonzvo said that the delay in the coming back of football is unbearable since football was a short career.

“Football as it is is a short career so imagine subtracting a year or two on that it becomes unbearable. I feel like I have lost five years of my life because that’s how it is. A year without football is like spending five years doing nothing you can imagine how I’m feeling right now. Beside us missing football, it’s also our career meaning its where we get our livelihood from so a lot of people who depend on us are in a tight spot,” Kadonzvo said.

Also commenting on the issue, Highlanders defender Collin Mujuru said that the situation is a huge set back. 

“The football situation has been very difficult.  We’ve spent over a year without playing football in the country due to the Covid 19 that which caught everyone unaware. Of course it’s been a huge set back for everyone, that includes the players and also the football fans themselves. On the other hand the suspension of football has been there as a  safeguarding measure  from the spread of COVID 19. So it’s been quite a difficult experience for everyone and we can’t wait for the football to resume probably under strict supervision just like what’s happening in other sectors.” Mujuru said.

In a video released by the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) recently captioned “Please bring back Football”, players said the current freeze had thrown them into abject poverty and forced most of them to turn to other means to make ends meet.

Below are comments made by players in the FUZ video:

Tatenda Mudewe (Manica Diamonds) Most of us survive on winning bonuses. In Zimbabwe the money we get from football is not enough. We rely on winning bonuses and travelling allowances, but now that we are not playing, we are not getting anything.

Ian Nekati (Chicken Inn) Things are not okay. We are surviving by selling chickens and at times selling groceries from our cars while hiding from the police. That is not a normal life for a footballer.

Bruce Homora (Black Rhinos) There is money we get while playing games, but we are not getting it because we are not playing. We cannot get that money while sitting at home.

Partson Jaure (Dynamos) I would like to say to the football heads, please help us resume football. This is our profession. We are not used to staying at home. Can they please also make sure when we start, we will be safe.

Mkhokheli Dube (Highlanders) The fact that we do not know when we are going to start means we do not know how hard we have to push to prepare ourselves for training.

Taona Chipondeni (Herentals) We grew up playing football and that is all we are good at. Since football has been stopped, life is difficult for us. If football returns our fortunes could turn.

Obriel Chirinda (Chicken Inn) Right now, we are sitting at home doing nothing. We have to hustle to feed our families. It would be good if football returns so that we get back to work.

Tabeth Mutinhiri (Herentals Queens) Some of us are not business-minded. Our talent is football. We believe football is the only thing that can transform our lives. 

Dominic Mukandi (out of contract)Even if I train after that I need food to replenish my body. At the same time the family is looking up to me to put food on the table. I do not want to lie, my morale is very low. I’m just training because this is work, but things are not well. We are getting to a stage where some of us may end up stealing due to lack of income.

Bukhosi Sibanda (Highlanders)We are hoping to get back to football. Right now, we are moving backwards and some of us are getting old and chances of playing abroad are getting slimmer by the day. As the nation awaits the verdict from SRC, it is most people’s hope that football comes back soon.

The suffering footballers have once again turned to “money games” to make ends meet with petitions and rollout plans being suggested for the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) which has since cited economic constrains to effect the return of football.

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