False Start for PSL Clubs Group Training

The Premier Soccer League say they are still waiting for a signal from ZIFA to get down to business after the clubs failed to get the mandatory Covid-19 testing to pave the way for group training.

ZIFA last week indicated they were going to fund the tests and wanted the PSL clubs to start training, by yesterday, ahead of a mini-league tournament set for December.

The association said two-week tournament would lay the ground work for national team coach, Zdravko Logarusic, ahead of the CHAN tournament in Cameroon in January.

However, the clubs were still in the dark by yesterday.

While domestic football continues to struggle, to return to action, neighbours Zambia have indicated their Premier League will get underway this weekend.

The Football Association of Zambia general-secretary, Adrian Kashala, said all the hurdles have been cleared to ensure the season gets underway on October 31.

“We are very happy to announce the fixtures of the 2020/2021 season for the Zambia Premier League,” Kashala said.

“The fixtures have been approved by the Executive Committee clearing the way for the league to kickoff.

“Clubs will be expected to adhere to the Covid-19 health protocols as we commence the league.”

The full fixtures have been duly circulated to the members in the Zambia Premier League.

The 2020/2021 football calendar opened with the Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu Charity Shield that was won by Nkana Football Club last weekend.

However, while it’s all systems go across the Zambezi, just days after the South African top-flight league got underway at the weekend, the picture doesn’t look good here.

PSL chief executive, Kenny Ndebele, said their medical committee had made proposals for the safe return of football and had presented their plan to ZIFA.

“We are still waiting for the procurement of the equipment, and the kits required for testing,” said Ndebele.

“The doctors (PSL Medical Committee) have sent a requisition to ZIFA. That is where we are at the moment, in terms of the progress.

“Once the procurement is confirmed the doctors will then give us the programme to follow.

“The PSL clubs are ready, let’s say the procurement is done tomorrow then the clubs may as well go down to business the following day.

“But, as of now, group training remains banned until the testing, and the other procedures, are in place.”

The PSL boss also sent a memo to all league sides at the weekend where he indicated that 50 individuals, per club, will be tested.

This will translate to 900 people getting tested, for the initial phase, at a cost of almost US$60 000.

“This serves to advise that the Sports Medical Committee, together with the Zimbabwe Football Association and Club Doctors, are working on modalities of testing football players technical staff and club officials.

“The Sports Medical Committee has submitted a budget for testing materials and other logistics to ZIFA for approval.

“The Covid-19 tests will commence as soon as the materials have been procured. A detailed testing programme shall be availed to you in due course.

“The tests shall be conducted for 50 individuals, per club, and these are players, coaches technical staff and officials,” read the memo.

The memo also highlighted that no group training should begin until all the necessary conditions are met.

“Please note that the medical committee will test players and officials from all the 18 Premier Soccer League clubs.

“No group training is permitted until testing has been done by the ZIFA or PSL medical committee,” wrote the PSL.

But, the costs of testing and running the bubble, appear to be beyond ZIFA who have already indicated they would need financial support from the other football stakeholders.

Funding of the whole exercise is still to be secured after ZIFA indicated they were only prepared to cover part of the costs which include the provision of protective gear, Covid-19 testing and the payment of referees.

ZIFA had put aside only US$65 000 for medicals and equipment in their allocations of the US$1.8 million Covid-19 relief funds they received from CAF and FIFA. Government have made it clear that “ZIFA and its affiliates (are) to provide resources and finances to undertake these activities.”

ZIFA may need a budget of US$60 000 for the initial PCR tests only.

They also need to put in place proper sanitary facilities and ensure the health protocols are adhered to while regular testing will be a must.

ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday said they have received the budgets from the PSL Medical Committee and were working on the logistics of the testing procedures.

“I can confirm the medical committee has presented the relevant documentation for the testing procedures and right now the logistics are being worked on. “Once the processes are complete the logistics will be communicated to the relevant groups,” said Gwesela.

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