Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, yesterday said the Government remained committed to going the extra mile to give ZIFA the institutional, and technical support, they need for the safe return of football. The government gave the biggest hint the national game could be played this year.
The sport’s leaders have now been tasked to look at various proposals, including the feasibility of the game being played, in a secure “bio-bubble” environment. One of the possibilities could be having a mini-league, this year, as the first step towards the resumption of the game.
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Premiership kings FC Platinum are also expected to begin their CAF Champions League campaign next month. Coventry yesterday said her ministry had looked at the application from ZIFA and have made a few proposals, which they hope to be incorporated into the health and safety guidelines, prepared by the Premier Soccer League Medical Committee.
The Minister addressed a media conference that was graced by Sports Commission chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, Sports Commissioner, Nigel Munyati, and ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo. ZIFA chief executive Joseph Mamutse, and his PSL counterpart, Kenny Ndebele, also graced the occasion.
Coventry said the Government remained keen to assist the football authorities, in every way possible since sport, particularly football, was part of the heart and soul of the nation.
“As the ministry responsible for the resumption of sport, we all know that soccer has been categorized as high risk. But, we have been working with the ministry and SRC and the task force, which also comprise of sports doctors. We have come up with ideas, and proposals, that we have now shared with PSL, ZIFA, and the Women’s Soccer League.We are asking for them to go and look through that concept, and those ideas, to see how viable it will be, in terms of resumption, of some of our soccer (activities),” she said
“It is based on the bubble-concept that we have seen in the US with the NBA and we are quite excited but, obviously, we are leaving it to the technocrats and the people in charge of soccer to tell us if it will be feasible for them and how we will all work together.
“So, I am putting a bit of pressure on them to say that if they can review, with all of their expertise and come back to us, hopefully by end of next week, will be able to have another announcement with some very exciting news.
“I think we all know that sport, especially soccer, is the heart and soul of our country so, I hope, this will bring some much-needed mental relief for the country in the near future.’’
The “bio-bubble” concept, proposed by the ministry, has been successful in many countries where it was applied. The concept, where players, officials, and critical staff are isolated from the outside world after testing negative to minimize the risk of Covid-19 infection, needs resources to implement.
“That is where we are asking for everyone to be a little bit patient because those are the things that we are all discussing right now,’’ she said.