Rehabilitate stadiums, then shift football seasons

THE idea of shifting the local football league calendar to match that of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), which has aligned its own with the European one, is a great idea as it brings many benefits.

Some of the benefits that come with the change of calendar from the current March to November schedule to that of August to May include the aligning of transfer windows.
It also makes good sense for local clubs that will be participating in the Caf competitions as they won’t have to play in those competitions while off season back home.
There are many other advantages and there is everything to benefit from the shift in the calendar.

But the Premier Soccer League was rebuffed by the Zifa assembly in their attempts to immediately shift to the August to May calendar starting this year.
Their push met resistance from football stakeholders at their meeting earlier this month and the decision to shelve the plan must be commended.

Zimbabwe just doesn’t have the facilities to sustain a football season during the rainy season.
The August to May schedule was tried once and it never worked. Since then, yes, a few stadiums have been built, while others have had facelifts.

Yet the main ones that are used by most top-flight teams have remained what they have been for years.
Take for instance Rufaro Stadium. Since they pulled off the artificial surface in order to replace it with natural grass, it has been in its worst state ever since.
The drainage system is poor and it is hardly usable during the rainy season.

Just a quarter of the sitting has got a roof above, which means with the threat of rains, fans are likely to stay away as they would be soaked while watching a football match.
The National Sports Stadium is probably one facility that can pass the test of hosting matches during the rainy season.
Still, there were issues with its drainage, but the owners claim that these have been fixed. During an Independence Cup semi-final between Caps United and Dynamos last year, the match was played amid a downpour, but the surface still looked OK.

FC Platinum’s Mandava Stadium also had drainage issues in the past, but they were fixed, yet there are questions about Ngezi Platinum’s Baobab.
As things stand right now, only a handful of stadiums are well suited for the August to May season schedule. Many barely meet the basics such as having proper changing rooms and media facilities, never mind complicated drainage issues.

Ascot, Sakubva, Luveve, and Shabanie’s Maglas stadiums are all in a sorry state and barely meet the minimum requirements to host even Division One football.
So while it is good to move with the times, Zimbabwe still has to fix its football facilities challenge for it to successfully embark on a change of calendar.
Overall, all football facilities require massive facelifts across the country. Football leaders must plan well before shifting to the new format.

Source : NewsDay

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