Government proposes bubble for football to return



THE government wants local football to adopt a bio-secure bubble model in order for the domestic season to be allowed to finally commence amidst the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Sports minister Kirsty Coventry yesterday revealed they are now working on a roadmap with the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the concept is successful.
The 2020 local football season should have kicked off in March but it was postponed after the government banned all large gatherings and sporting events to curb the spread of the novel virus.
After almost six months of inactivity, Zifa finally submitted their return to play protocols to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) last week.
Addressing journalists in the capital yesterday, Coventry said the government had gone through Zifa’s application and has now suggested the bubble model in order to give the game the green light to resume.
“We have been working as the ministry and with SRC together with our taskforce which also comprises sports doctors and we have come up with some ideas and proposals that we have now shared with Zifa, the PSL and the Women’s League,” the minister said.
“We are asking them to go and look through the concept and those ideas to see how viable it will be in terms of the resumption of soccer.
“It is based on the bubble concept that we have seen in the US in the NBA and we are quite excited but obviously we are leaving it to the technocrats and the people in charge of soccer to tell us if it will be feasible for them and how we will all work together.”
The bubble concept would see the PSL players, coaches and team, league and media personnel all packed into one “bio-secure” place without contact from the outside world.
There will be regular testing of all the people in the bubble and with no entry for non-essential personnel to preserve the health and safety of those involved.
All the games will be staged in designated venues with no spectators allowed.  Those in the bubble will be allowed to leave for emergencies and other personal engagements but will have to be tested and self-quarantine for a specific period upon their return.
“I’m putting a bit of pressure on them (Zifa) to review with all of their expertise and to come back to us…and hopefully by end of this week or next week, we will be able to have another announcement with some very exciting news.
“We will be able to announce timelines once the boards have discussed. I think just to be respectful to everyone and the powers that be, we need to allow for Zifa, PSL and the Women’s League to have those conversations and then we seek guidelines from them in terms of timelines,” Coventry added.
However, setting up such a complex structure would require vast resources.
“This is where we are asking for a little bit of patience because those are the things that we are in discussion with now, how will it work, what will be the modality for it to work. There are a lot of questions in terms of the concept and I have asked the technocrats specifically to figure out how much it will cost, and see if it is feasible.
“We need to have those discussions and that’s why we are saying if you give us this week to have them and come up with a more affirmative plan that’s got a buy in from everyone on the table then we will be able to give everyone a breakdown of how everything will work,” Coventry said.
Zifa president Felton Kamambo said they will consider the proposal as they seek to expedite football’s return.
“I think it will be exciting as well…I think it will get the nod from our board. The bottom line is that life is back and we will be getting back to our football fields very soon,” he said

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