THE Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) is considering withdrawing the services of ball boys at local matches following incidences of their unsporting behaviour at certain matches.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Ball boys have been accused of aiding certain teams through time-wasting, and in some worse cases, they are allegedly used as juju carriers by their respective teams.
The home team’s junior players often act as ball boys and this is the standard procedure the world over.
PSL’s chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele told Standardsport that withdrawing their services was imminent.
“Ball boys are there to speed up play by reducing the amount of inactive time while at the same time being close to their idols. However, their recent behaviour at some matches has been very unethical,” he said.
“They even go to the extent of inciting violence, as was the case in the game between Dynamos and CAPS United last Sunday, where they openly mocked the CAPS United coach [Taurai Mangwiro]. That was very embarrassing,” he said.
Ndebele added: “We would rather have a situation where the players retrieve the ball themselves. The other option would be to fine the clubs whose ball boys would have misbehaved. At our next meeting, we will look at what sort of fine to impose on the guilty clubs.”
In July this year, Ndebele wrote to the clubs to stop the abuse of the ball boys.
“Some clubs have a penchant for teaching ball boys to cheat during matches. Ball boys are taught to delay ball distribution when the home teams have an advantage. In some instances, ball boys literally hide behind the touch line advertising boards to avoid distributing footballs. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” wrote Ndebele.
“The role of the ball boys is to facilitate quick play, avoiding long delays when a match ball leaves the pitch and its immediate vicinity. We trust we all take corrective measures in order for the game to improve the management of the game of football.”
However, the plea fell on deaf ears, as the practice is on the increase with Dynamos and CAPS United ball boys being the chief culprits.
Zimbabwe Junior League chairman Zivanai “Zifa” Chiyangwa also echoed these sentiments.
“We no longer want these young boys to be used as ball boys at all. In fact, of all our stadiums, only the National Sports Stadium requires ball boys,” he said.
In a game against Harare City last year, a ball boy, sent by a section of Dynamos fans housed at Rufaro’s Mbare-end, poured a urine-like substance at the goal area a few seconds before Ocean Mushure’s winner.
Another incident saw a CAPS United ball boy sprinkling an unknown substance at Rangers’ goal, as his side struggled to find the target. Moments later Hardlife Zvirekwi and Shingi Kawondera scored.
Dynamos vice-chairman Webster Chikengezha said they would abide by whatever the PSL decides.
However, ball boys’ support of their teams is not peculiar to Zimbabwe, as Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking 17-year-old Swansea ball boy Charlie Morgan who was holding on to the ball in a bid to delay at Liberty Stadium last year.