Government yet to give Zifa green light. . . as football remains suspended

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GOVERNMENT has not approved football’s return despite Zifa president Felton Kamambo’s claims that teams are set to begin training next week amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
During his tour of Midlands last week, Kamambo claimed they are working on a plan for top-flight clubs to start training on September 14.

Once teams start to train, the 2020 football season, which was supposed to have kicked off in March, will finally commence in mid-October according to the timelines presented by the under-fire Zifa boss.

In order for Zifa’s plan to succeed, the association needs to apply and send their return-to-play protocols to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) for approval.

Since the outbreak of the novel virus in March, the government has banned all sporting activities as a measure to mitigate the spread of infections.

In June, the SRC classified at least 15 sporting codes as low-risk disciplines and allowed them to resume training under strict health guidelines.

However, football was designated a high-risk full contact sport and will remain suspended until further notice from the government and health authorities. Despite Kamambo’s claims and optimism for football to resume training next week and games to commence in October, the SRC is yet to receive any official communication from the association.

“We are yet to receive the application from Zifa. We are only seeing and reading about what they are saying in the news,” SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho told the Daily News yesterday.

“(When they apply) We will be guided by what they want to do in terms of the conditions and we will not be looking at the time frame of.

“As you are aware, we recently allowed low-risk sports to resume activities and we have quite a number that have applied to start full activities.”

Zifa’s delay in making a formal application to the SRC for permission for football to resume has now created a major headache for the domestic game, especially after Caf recently announced new dates for international and inter-club competitions.

The Warriors are now expected to resume their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers with back-to-back matches against reigning champions Algeria between November 9 and 17.

Before that, Fifa has also designated October 7-15 as an international window for national teams to play friendly matches.

Zimbabwe risks going into those two matches against the Desert Foxes without an active league which has complicated matters for Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic.

Fifa announced recently that teams are no longer obliged to release players for international duty due to Covid-19, which means a number of Warriors stars in Europe might miss the Algeria games.

FC Platinum are also in a spot of bother since they are expected to commence their 2020-21 African Champions League campaign on November 20.

The reigning Zimbabwean champions have been inactive since March and cannot start training for the Champions League unless Zifa have been given the green light by the SRC. Meanwhile, the Zifa and Premier Soccer League Medical Committee has come up with stringent protocols for the game to resume.

In order for training to resume, these are some of the guidelines to be followed:
*Instructions are given on observance of basic hygiene measures and respiratory etiquette (hand sanitising, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing) and social distancing as directed by the health officer.
*Time spent in the changing room before and after training should be minimised, as should the length and intensity of contact with teammates and trainers.
*Players and employees with access to the training premises shall be informed of the definition of “symptoms of infection”.
*The entry point oversees access to training premises for players and essential employees.
*Training should always take place without spectators.
*There should be obligatory confirmation in writing (e.g. text message) of symptom-free status from all players and employees sent to health officer before entering premises.
*There shall be temperature check upon entering the training ground.
*Hand sanitiser (stands) should be available at all entry points at the training premises.
*There should be regular surface disinfection at end of training day.
*Common spaces used only for essential purposes
*Team meetings should be conducted only with sufficient distancing and in large enough spaces.
*Ensure good ventilation in rooms.
Teams should avoid eating meals together but opt for take-aways.  
*Personal drinking bottles should be used exclusively.
*Use of common spaces (changing rooms, showers) should be done only in small groups while ensuring minimum distance of 2m although splitting up into different rooms at the same time is wise; alternatively, change and shower at home.
*Players to use fitness equipment while wearing face masks and with consistent application of sanitizer
*Players should access fitness rooms in small groups in observance of minimum distances.
*Medical teams to have face masks at all times, consistently disinfecting hands, or using disposable gloves (changing after each contact with players).
*It makes sense to assign players to set therapists.
*There should be physical separation of therapists, adequate distance between treatment tables for therapeutic measures, close off any other spaces, disinfect exam tables.
*Sparing use of medical equipment such as ultrasound, shock waves etc. this equipment should be disinfected before and after use.
*Doors should remain open as much as possible so no handles need to be used.
*The League shall assign at least one person who will be permanently available for Covid-19 screening/testing. This individual is to be relieved of other duties around the teams due to the higher risk of infection (e.g.  staffed by available employees, potential hiring of medically trained staff).
*Swab tests to be conducted while wearing personal protective equipment.
*Testing shall be carried out on a continual basis. Everyone involved in training and matchday operations should be tested.
*Laundry and shoes must be washed separately (to protect equipment manager). The equipment manager is obliged to wear protective clothing at all times.
*Health care workers should adhere to special protective measures during contact with the team (e.g. medical staff stays only in the exam room and exams are always performed with face masks and gloves).

Staffing Requirements:
*Health officer (generally the team doctor; must be a licensed doctor; can delegate tasks to people with appropriate training)
*Designated tester for Covid-19 swabbing-seconded from the MOHCC/ Local Authority if required
lIncreased cleaning staff
*Access controller/security

Space Requirements:  
*Separate room for screening/test swabbing
*Access control
*Expansion of medical spaces and changing rooms
*Large meeting spaces for team meetings
*Material requirements
*Hand sanitiser/stands
*Surface disinfectant
*Face masks/disposable gloves
*Personal protective equipment for designated personnel
*Personal drinking bottles
lInfra-red thermometers

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