BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
FOOTBALL players in the country’s top-flight league will return to the training ground early this week for the first time since early March to undergo Covid-19 testing as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) begin the path back to activity ahead of a planned return to action in December.
The PSL, in a memorandum sent to all top-flight clubs on Wednesday, revealed that it was in the process of finalising the process which will see 900 players and officials from the 18 PSL clubs undergoing Covid-19 tests at the first phase of protocols to return to playing matches, without spectators.
“This serves to advise that the sports medical committee together with the Zimbabwe Football Association and club doctors are working on modalities of testing football players, technical staff and club officials,” reads the memo.
“The sports medical committee has submitted a budget for testing materials and other logistics to Zifa for approval.
“The Covid-19 tests will commence as soon as the materials have been procured. A detailed testing programme shall be availed to you in due course
“The tests shall be conducted for 50 individuals per club and these are players, coaches, technical staff and officials.”
The PSL warned clubs against beginning group training until the completion of tests conducted by the Zifa or PSL medical committee,
“Please note that the medical committee will test players and officials from all the 18 Premier Soccer League clubs,” wrote PSL.
“No group training is permitted until testing has been done by the Zifa or PSL medical committee.”
The imminent tests to be conducted by the PSL and Zifa medical committees come after some clubs had already started conducting their own Covid-19 tests in preparation for the return to training.
PSL side Bulawayo City last week revealed that three of its players had gone into isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 following tests done by the club in preparation for resumption of training.
A total of 15 City players, technical team members and the club’s secretariat underwent Covid-19 PCR testing on Thursday afternoon courtesy of Bulawayo City Council’s health department.
Following the tests, City confirmed that three players had tested positive and were now self-isolating.
PSL teams, Women Soccer League teams as well as national teams were recently given the green light to resume activity.
A mini-league concept has been proposed using the bubble idea, with activities to be strictly controlled.
Uncertainty, however, surrounds the mini-league competition with Zifa and government haggling over who will take care of the costs for the resumption of football.
The local football motherbody indicated they were only prepared to cover part of the costs which include the provision of protective gear, Covid-19 testing and the payment of referees.