‘Decentralize Premier Soccer League games’

The excitement with which young Kelvin Maparadze looks at his namesake —Dynamos defender Kelvin Moyo —is unspeakably beautiful.

Kelvin (15), a form 2 student at Mt Darwin High School, glances at Moyo and his twin Elvis Moyo as they go through the warm up drill, minutes before the Uhuru Cup between Dynamos and Highlanders.

Young Kelvin, understandably, looks confused as to who is who betwen the Moyo twins, due to the striking resemblance of the duo.

He admits to having a conundrum in trying to tell the Moyo twins apart, when he once saw them on television and is bubbling with excitement over the reality of finally seeing them in person.

“I love Dynamos and I had the opportunity to watch one of their games on television this season and that is when I realized Kelvin and Elvis Moyo now play for the club,” reveals young Kelvin.

“I’m always debating with my friend as to who is who between them (the Moyo twins),” he adds.

“I can’t believe we are about to watch Dynamos here in Mt Darwin. This is a dream come true,” says Kelvin, before being shoved as fans tried to get the best view of the historic clash.

DeMbare and Bosso renewed their rilvary in the latest installment of the ‘Battle of Zimbabwe’ in the Uhuru Cup at Mt Darwin High School, as the country celebrated 43 years of Independence, on Tuesday.

Over 20 000 people watched the clash, as authorities took the ‘take football to the people’ stance, seriously.

The two most followed teams in the country clashed outside Harare and Bulawayo for the first ever and the development has ignited football fans’ ambition for Premier Soccer League (PSL) games to be hosted in marginalized parts of the country.

Renowned sportscaster Mike Madoda, supports the idea.

The suggestion comes at a time when Zimbabwe has a stadium crisis which has resulted in only six facilities being used for PSL matches countrywide.

The National Sports Stadium in Harare, Babourfields and Luveve in Bulawayo,  Baobab in Mhondoro Ngezi, Mandava in Zvishavane and Gibbo in Chiredzi, are the only stadia which made the cut in the latest inspection by the ZIFA First Instance Board (FIB).

The setback has resulted in seven top-flight teams, including Premiership debutants Simba Bhora —who are based in Shamva — jostling for the National Sports Stadium.

Simba have played their matches at Wadzanai Stadium in Shamva since they were in Division 2 and football fans in the nickel-rich town feel devoid of Premiership football.

The club’s spokesperson Charles Nyatsine understands them.

“To be honest, the fans felt betrayed that the games are still by now being played in Harare and their main worry is the precedence set by Mushowani last time,” Nyatsine told Soccer24.

“We are however still optimistic that by mid season we will be playing at home to at least bring a smile of the faces of our fans again,” he added.

Simba Bhora midfielder Ronald ‘Rooney’ Chitiyo talks to a young fan after Simba’s 1-0 win over PAM FC at Wadzanai Stadium on July 23, 2022. 

Other Premiership debutants Sheasham and GreenFuel, are using an alternative venues for home games —Mandava and Gibbo respectively, after their stadiums GreenFuel Arena and Bata were flagged down to allow renovations to complete.

Hwange, the other promoted team, is temporarily using Babourfields — which is located 335 kilometers from their fortress —the Colliery  which was also not certified for use by the FIB.

GreenFuel are based in Chisumbanje, where their fans experienced a fairytale season in the Eastern Region Division One last year, on their way to the PSL.

The tunnel of GreenFuel Arena in Chisumbanje  the home of GreenFuel.

Joramu Hwata, a GreenFuel fan, urged the FIB to belittle their standards when inspecting stadiums, as to decentralize PSL games.

“I travel from Chisumbanje to watch GreenFuel at Gibbo in Chiredzi because that is our temporary home ground. Now I’m here in Harare to rally behind the team. It’s very tough in terms of costs,” Hwata said before GreenFuel’s game against Yadah at the National Sports Stadium last month.

“I just wish the authorities could lower their standards when inspecting stadiums so that Premiership football goes countrywide.

“GreenFuel is a community team, and the Chipinge people no longer feel connected to it because home games are not being played there,” Hwata added.

Acting Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Chief Executive Officer Xolisani Gwesela, who is a member of the FIB, insists the decentralization of Premiership football is not about lowering standards, but local authorities investing in renovating stadiums.

“The issue is not about lowering standards, but encouraging local authorities to put more resources in sprucing up the infrastructure to meet FIFA and CAF standards,” said Gwesela.

“We should never in any way in the country, lower any standard.  We want stadiums to improve” he added.

Gwesela however hailed government’s decision to host DeMbare and Bosso in Mt Darwin.

“We would like to applaud the government for taking independence celebrations to rural areas and ensuring that PSL clubs Dynamos and Highlanders participate in those rural areas. The only way to develop rural areas, is to take those teams to the rural areas,” Gwesela said.

Stadiums outside Harare which used to host PSL matches but have since been flagged down include Nyamhunga in Kariba, Trojan  in Bindura,  Sakubva in Mutare, Vengere in Rusape, Ascot in Gweru, Baghdad in Kwekwe and Rimuka in Kadoma.

While authorities continue to cast a blind eye on some stadiums in Zimbabwe with potential to host top-flight, football fans —the owners of the game —are suffering the consequences.



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