BULAWAYO – Former ZIFA acting president Vincent Pamire has called on football authorities to park the proposed National Division One League saying the country’s economy was not yet ready to support the ambitious project.
The veteran football administrator, who was in charge of ZIFA when the country’s senior men’s football squad won the Cosafa Castle Cup and qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 2003, predicted the idea would suffer a stillbirth.
There have been loud calls from the present ZIFA management to introduce a national league in 2023.
The matter will be debated at the next annual general meeting of the national association. A lot of lobbying has been done with the matter seemingly set to be passed by councillors a majority of whom have never felt the difficulty of running clubs from their pockets or meagre resources.
“Pug it,” Pamire said in a blunt disapproval of the proposed plan.
The former ZIFA boss was the brainchild of the plan when he was still at the helm of the country’s football mother body back in 2003.
Pamire said while he had – back then – suggested a nationwide league with representation from all big towns and mining centres, something which would have seen local authorities, businesses and community own the clubs, a lot has since changed with economic pressures taking a toll on individual clubs.
“So much has changed from that time. The economy back then was ticking with a lot of teams owned by companies who were doing so as part of their corporate community social responsibility programmes. Those companies have collapsed. The mines that traditionally supported sport are no more.
“As things stand, the economy does not allow such ventures. It is a good idea which unfortunately cannot be implemented now lest there be disaster,” he said.
Pamire said local premiership clubs had struggled to complete the 2022 season because of the high costs associated with running their affairs.
Remuneration was poor for players amid dwindling turnstile activity at stadia without sound sponsorship for the league as well as incentives for teams.
Television and radio rights were a complete disaster with none of the media houses coming up with proposals good enough for clubs to benefit.
The veteran administrator, who is a Zimbabwe Saints board member, said even Division One clubs had struggled to fulfil fixtures.
“In the just ended season, Division One clubs struggled. So many walkovers were witnessed by the same teams that failed to travel to regional assignments; today you wake up to want him to play in the more challenging Division One League,” said Pamire.
At the moment, Zimbabwe has four regional Division One leagues. This was done for more councillors for elections and also to reduce travelling.
Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South constitute the Southern Region, Masvingo and the Midlands are Central, Manicaland and Mashonaland East make the Eastern Region while Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Harare are Northern Region.
The deliberate move cut the longest distance to about 400km where as in the past a Victoria Falls team travelled almost 800km to Beitbridge and Eastern Lowveld to fulfil a fixture.
ZIFA have been on a nationwide tour to get views from Division One clubs on the proposed national league.
Clubs are divided on the issue with lack of sponsorship by the promoters.