The Sunday Mail
Eager to end nearly two years of inactivity, the Zimbabwe Northern Region leadership has set deadlines for clubs to have their members fully vaccinated.
The region, which administers the most vibrant of the country’s four Division One leagues, wants all clubs to have their players, coaches and support staff inoculated by the end of this month.
Northern Region chairperson Martin Kweza said all clubs are required to send in their Covid-19 compliance orders by October 22 to allow them to submit their application for approval by the ZIFA board.
“As we aim to ensure that we have a safe return to football, we have asked our clubs to have their players and officials vaccinated by October 22, as this will enhance our chances of getting an approval from the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to resume activities,” said Kweza.
“We also discussed about our league commencement, where we said it is now dependent on the approval from SRC as it will guide us on when exactly we can commence our season.
“But, provisionally, we have given our clubs November 15 as our expected start of the season while our clubs have to pay affiliation fees by October 15, with the deadline of registration of players being October 22.”
Speaking at the end of the Northern Region annual meeting in Harare, Kweza said it is now mandatory for all clubs to have a Covid-19 compliance officer.
“We have 14 of 18 clubs that have submitted their lists of vaccinated players and officials as part of enforcing the Covid-19 regulations and we have resolved that every club should have a Covid-19 compliance officer.
“We have given them up to October 15 to have such an officer in place and ensure that a training programme is conducted for them.”
The region has also retained its corporate partners despite challenges brought by the pandemic.
“Inasmuch as we are pushing clubs to meet the Covid-19 requirements, we, as the regional leadership, are also running around the clock so that we also meet the requirements of having stadiums meet the regulations for the bio-bubble. I am happy to announce that we have managed to identify and secure the stadiums.”
Apart from retaining the sponsors, negotiations of having a Northern Region FA Cup tournament are at an advanced stage.
Just like their Northern Region counterparts, those in the Eastern and Southern Regions are also not resting on their laurels.
Eastern Region chairperson Davison Muchena and Southern Region board member (competitions) Fiso Siziba indicated that they were ready for resumption.
“We took note of the instructions from ZIFA and we are compiling all the information as requested.
“And hopefully, we will be allowed to play after submission. Most of our players are now vaccinated, and so is the public, so I am confident that permission will be granted very soon,” said Muchena.
Siziba said they stand guided by the ZIFA secretariat.
“We have to acknowledge that all the football resumption directives will be given by the ZIFA national office and as a region all that we will do shall be determined by them.
“We have been active in our own optimistic efforts in anticipation of the resumption of football.
“We have managed to call in for vaccination records from our 18 clubs as well as the 29 referees in our region.
“We are currently at 70 percent vaccination levels and hope to attain 90 percent by the end of October. We have also appointed a Covid-19 taskforce, which includes a medical consultant and three board members, that is: administration, finance and competitions.
The taskforce reports to the chairman.
“We have also identified venues to be used for our football activities and we have a total of 16 venues within Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces.
“These were considered in line with the Covid-19 protocols that demand total barring of fans from the games,” said Siziba.