By Michael Kariati
It’s all systems go for the Zifa Northern Region after 14 of the 18 teams in the assembly over the weekend resolved to resume competition after two years in the wilderness.
The 14 teams unanimously agreed that competition should resume mid-November and immediately provided lists of vaccinated players and officials to be submitted to Zifa today for onward transmission to the Sport and Recreation Commission.
This is in line with a Zifa directive after the association’s spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela told all clubs that lower division leagues should submit their programmes of action outlining their preparedness for the safe return of competition.
The Northern Region is the first of the lower divisions to take the initiative.
Zifa Northern Region vice-chairman Sweeney Mushonga revealed that they had also agreed on a US$1 500 affiliation fee, which he said all the clubs had pledged their commitment.
“The training for COVID-19 compliance officers will be done on October 15, while all other additional players and officials should be vaccinated the latest by October 22,” Mushonga said.
The meeting also resolved to publish audited financial statements going forward, which they said would help give confidence to their sponsors.
Mushonga, who is vice to Martin Kweza, said the league still had the financial backing of Ruyamuro Holdings, their traditional sponsors who has been with them for years.
The Northern Region also announced the engagement of renowned football coach Nelson Matongorere as technical director of youth football as well as being a member of the technical and development committee.
Matongorere will spearhead education of youth coaches and lead all other training programmes.
Other members of the committee are former Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigove (programmes co-ordinator), former Mighty Warriors captain Rosemary Mugadza as well as the president of the Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association, Bheki Nyoni.
“The region remains critical that football can only improve if we improve on quality. Quality and well-remunerated players will improve our standard of play. The euphoria associated with football will be back and make it easy to approach sponsors,” Mushonga said.
Former Warriors striker Alois Bunjira has been drafted in the league’s marketing committee.
Action in the Northern Region was last seen in 2019 when Nesbert Saruchera’s Cranborne Bullets won the title and a place in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
Saruchera, for being the Coach of the Year, and Kelvin Chibunyu, the Player of the Year, drove away in brand new US$6 000 car, an offer that is once again on the table this season for the competing teams.
In addition to the existing awards, Mushonga revealed that they have also secured monthly and yearly sponsorship for the goalkeeper, top goalscorer, coach and team of the year for the 2021 season.
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