ZIFA board member Sugar Chagonda has confirmed the 2021 Premiership football season will begin in February.
The 2020 season was wiped by the Covid-19 pandemic before it had even started.
There were indications that some mini tournaments pitting top-flight teams in a bio-secure bubble would be played this month.
But the costs involved coupled with lack of corporate sponsorship meant the proposed competition that would have marked the return of football in the country failed to take off.
Premiership teams, the only tier allowed to resume football by the authorities, have since gone for breaks with the majority of them resuming training early next month.
There is still confusion among Premiership teams as they claim they haven’t been informed on the date the 2021 season will start though.
But Chagonda, who was one of the high-ranking football officials to attend a grassroots tournament held to celebrate Black Rhinos secretary-general Edward Mutukwa’s elevation in the Zimbabwe National Army in Chiweshe on Tuesday, confirmed the new season will begin in February.
“The 2020 football season was washed away by the pandemic as you may all be aware,” said Chagonda.
“Both the top-flight and First Division football season as well as all other divisions were supposed to start the 2020 term in April this year. “Unfortunately, the pandemic put paid to the plans. As a result, the players took time at home training alone until just recently when Premiership teams were allowed to return to group training.
“We are working to make sure all the football divisions return to action in a safe manner. The 2021 season will start in February or if that doesn’t happen then latest will be in early March.” Chagonda said it was imperative for football to be played in all the corners of the country. “ZIFA takes grassroots football seriously and it is through these structures that the future of the game depends on.
“We are happy to see football being played in all the corners of the country. This is in tandem with our vision and we support initiatives like these.”
The celebratory match, which featured Chiweshe Select against Zimbabwe Defence Forces Senior Officers, saw Black Rhinos chief scout Stanford “Stix” Mutizwa handpicking three youngsters who will join the army side’s development team.
Mutizwa said there is vast untapped talent in the country’s rural areas which authorities need to develop. “I am awed by the level of talent in the rural areas. Look, most of the scouts in the country look at such areas like Mbare or Mufakose forgetting that we have had so many players who have come from the rural areas and have done so well. “I am impressed by the level of talent that I have seen here in Chiweshe and I am taking at least three youngsters to Black Rhinos juniors.
“I will go around all corners of the country to search for raw talent and with what I have seen here, I am sure I won’t be disappointed.”
Mutukwa, who was elected into the Rhinos executive early this year, has made inroads into the local football fraternity and has transformed the army team into a professional entity. While other teams have complained of non-payment of salaries, Black Rhinos players have religiously received theirs and just last month, they were rewarded with hampers.
Mutukwa was recently promoted to the rank of substantive Colonel from Lieutenant Colonel, a feat which he decided to celebrate with his kith and kin in Chiweshe.
He also donated football kits and footballs.
Rhinos have so far added former Dynamos striker Kuda Kumwala on their roster and dropped ex-Monomotapa attacker Osbourne Mukuradare.