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Hope for football return


THERE is renewed hope that local football could return soon after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) granted the country’s club football representatives on the continent and other sport codes permission to begin activities albeit for specific international and local events.

Three-time Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum and Black Rhinos Queens, who are competing in the Caf Champions League and inaugural Cosafa Women’s Champions League, were denied a waiver to start preparations last month following a ban on all sports.

Black Rhinos Queens have been drawn in Group B alongside Green Buffaloes from Zambia and Namibia’s Tura Magic in a tournament which will be played between August 26 and September 4 in South Africa.

FC Platinum on the other hand begin their Caf Champions League first round campaign next month while also football officials have been allowed to travel for the Under-20 World Cup Qualifiers pitting eSwatini against Mozambique.

SRC has seemingly thrown out the window Zifa’s application for the completion of the Chibuku Cup, which was at the halfway stage when the ban was called into effect.

Interestingly the Premier Soccer League (PSL) revealed that they are already preparing for approval to commence the league competition, which has not been played since the end of 2019.

This exemption for the two clubs and other teams from different sport codes that have critical international and local engagement comes at a time when the SRC has stepped up efforts to encourage athletes and the public to vaccinate.

The local sports governing body announced the new development in a statement yesterday.

“The Sports and Recreation Commission is pleased to inform the public that the following sport codes have been granted an exemption to conduct specific activities in order to fulfil critical international and domestic tournaments and events. The relevant NSA’s are being informed in writing by the SRC,” the commission said before providing a detailed list of the sports codes and events.

Other sport codes to get the SRC waiver include the Zimbabwe cricket women who are scheduled to have tours against Thailand and Ireland in August and October respectively.

Rowing Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) were approved for the 2021 World Rowing Junior Championship set for beginning of this week while Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) have upcoming events for the Cheetahs and the women Sevens team.

The Hockey Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) men’s and women’s Under-21 national hockey teams are set to participate in the World Cup qualifiers to be held in Namibia from August 14th to 21st.

Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union also got the green light to stage the Zimbabwe Open Strokeplay Championships at Royal Golf Club at the end of the month.

Zimbabwe National Bass Federation, National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe, Cycling Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Archery Association also have international events coming up for which they were approved.

Tennis Zimbabwe also got the approval to host the Zimbabwe – China Davis Cup match series scheduled for September 17th – 18th at Harare Sports Club but the competition has been cancelled.

It looks like the SRC has pinned hopes of the full return of sport on vaccination having recently made efforts to push their “Save our Sport, get your COVID-19 vaccine Jab TODAY”, campaign.

It is a vaccination awareness program initiated by the SRC in April 2021 when Zimbabwe embarked on its preliminary vaccination drive and the first phase of the campaign targeted athletes and sports administrators.

In May the Ministry of Health and Child Care through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation availed 20 000 vaccines for athletes.

The current phase is to encourage the public to get vaccinated in order for Zimbabwe to achieve herd immunity so that sport can resume possibly with fans.

“As a sector, we stand to benefit significantly if Zimbabwe achieves herd immunity. This will mean possible opening up of games and matches to spectators, reduction in operational costs for example  bio-secure bubbles, averting continuous revenue losses as in the  current scenario and allowing the full resumption of sport and recreation  activities  and events,” acting director general Garikai  Sebastian.

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