Sporting facilities need to be top-notch
IT is disturbing that some schools have better shower facilities at their changing pavilions than those professional football players in our top league have to make do with.
For some, a shower at a football field may seem like a luxury.
It is not!
It does not only show how the facility values its clients but also the importance it attaches to the people who use the place.
Players in our top league should be the yardstick by which we measure our level of seriousness in any sport.
Their dressing, diet, mode of transport and fields they play on are all a constituent element of the top-flight brand.
The way players enter the field of play is all a part of the image of sport.
The recent suspension of the Premier Soccer League to July 1 to allow the turf at the National Sports Stadium to regenerate was hard to take.
The National Sports Stadium is exactly that — a national stadium.
At the moment, it is the home ground of every PSL team in Harare.
So, no matter how talented the ground managers are, there is no way they were going to keep up. A situation like this makes one wonder how Dynamos, which have been in existence for 60 years, must be feeling.
After all these years, they still train at a rented facility and play at the country’s national stadium.
Two teams came into the PSL this season — Sheasham from Gweru and Simba Bhora from Shamva.
These clubs, which are fairly young, have entered into agreements to renovate stadiums in their communities and make them their home grounds. Dynamos are the most successful club in the country by titles won.
Their success needs to translate into assets and infrastructure.
By now, they should have their own facilities specifically tailored for their needs.
We previously broached this subject in an article titled “Clubs of no fixed abode”, but the reality then had not hit home in the manner it now has.
The league could make things more interesting here.
Each club must have a ground they call home. No three teams can share a facility as a home ground.
That is no longer a home ground; it is a sporting dormitory. There is no privacy. There is no sense of belonging. There is no relationship.
It is a purely transactional relationship.
Surely, there is a risk there, as in anything where clients simply pay and leave.
Once the league has identified the grounds, they must play a guiding role between the clubs, the local authority or whoever owns the facility and corporate players in that sector.
Business cases should be developed and viable partnerships created.
Football clubs are serious businesses and this idea of begging bowls must come to an end.
However, it is easy to call yourself a business if you have a place of your own.
Harare and Chitungwiza have stadiums that could easily host most of the smaller clubs without much fuss, but the grounds are in a terrible state.
These grounds should be revenue-generation centres, with the income used to maintain the facilities and also to benefit the investors.
Sheasham showed what can be achieved with a forward-thinking mindset and the determination to succeed.
The fact that their stakeholders are in construction is a bonus.
What comes first is the plan and the conviction. Simba Bhora have transformed their ground over the years and are shaping it into an enviable facility.
Bulawayo Chiefs are developing what they call the Chief’s Village and have built a modern clubhouse with great amenities.
Highlanders have also renovated their club facilities and are among the earliest visionary clubs for getting their own land and creating a home for themselves.
In Harare, Motor Action had taken the initiative to transform Callies Sports Club into their home and they did a great job of it.
The big question is: What have the other bigger clubs done about their situations?
Something as simple as taking a shower in his own home ground can change the way a player sees himself in the greater scheme of professional football in Zimbabwe.
Let us start with the showers.