A LOT has been said and written about the falling standards of football in the domestic Premiership over the years.
Over the last few years, critics have been feasting on this narrative, saying the quality on display, in our top-flight league, has been poor and standards have been falling every season.
Some even blame that for the sharp decline in the attendance figures at matches during our Premiership games.
Only last Sunday, Rufaro hosted a battle between the country’s two biggest and most successful football clubs, Dynamos and Highlanders, in a Chibuku Super Cup showdown.
And, as we all clearly saw, the game did not attract the big crowd that used to be associated with the clashes between these two eternal rivals.
Of course, in an environment where the majority of football fans find themselves without a lot of disposable income to spend paying to watch football, week in and week out, it’s important to put things into context.
The case hasn’t also been helped by the fact that these two giants have had, by their high standards, a poor season in which they have been living in the shadows of other clubs.
But, to suggest that the game in the domestic Premiership is dead, or dying, as some critics have been claiming, is an exaggeration by merchants of doom.
Those who are on a crusade to just see the negatives, even where there are some positives, in this country, be it in our politics or in our sport.
The people who would even celebrate when the Warriors lose, because it suits their toxic narrative that they everything is falling apart in this country.
But, sport, has a funny way of fighting back against such prophets of doom.
Sport is about results and the performance of our two representatives, FC Platinum and Triangle, in the current CAF inter-club continental tournaments — the Champions League and the Confederation Cup — have shown that, contrary to the message from Doomsday prophets, our domestic Premiership isn’t a dead league.
There is still life in our top-flight league, despite all the decent players we have lost to the South African Premiership, the Zambian Super League and even the Tanzanian league.
That a club like Triangle, making their maiden appearance in the CAF Confederation Cup, can eliminate a team like Azam of Tanzania, whose financial muscle has seen them wooing players from Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon and Zambia, shows our top-flight league isn’t as dead as critics would want people to believe.
This is the same Azam FC that signed Bruce Kangwa from Highlanders, when he was probably the best player on the domestic front, and then added Donald Ngoma, who was one of the top strikers in the local Premiership, to their roaster.
But, for all their huge financial outlay, the Tanzanian side still failed to even score a single goal against Triangle, in both legs of their CAF Confederation Cup battle, in a clear indication that the Zimbabwean side was superior.
Now, if Triangle clear the next hurdle, they will qualify for the group stages of the Confederation Cup and that could see us having two clubs in the mini-league of the two CAF inter-club competitions, after FC Platinum again booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
It’s the second straight season that the Zvishavane side will be playing in the group stages of the Champions League and, after CAPS United also featured at this level of the tournament two years ago, we are seeing our representatives regularly getting this far in the tournament.
When CAPS United eliminated five-time champions TP Mazembe two years ago, in a result that sent shockwaves across the continent, there were some people who thought that it was a fluke result, but the performances of FC Platinum and Triangle have shown that, indeed, our main league is strong.
For FC Platinum to keep doing so well, as booking a date with the continent’s heavyweights, especially against a background where they have lost a sizeable number of their best players to South African Premiership sides, is an indication of the strength of our top-flight league.
We have always felt that those who run our top-flight league are men of substance, and we are charmed by the fact that they continue to try and improve their league and their decision to stage a symposium, on Wednesday and Thursday, in Victoria Falls provides further confirmation that they have a commitment to keep improving the league.
Already, we have seen FIFA pledging their support for the PSL International Football Symposium by delegating their Safety and Security Manager, Lee Davidson to present on managing safety and security and sporting events.
He will join other football experts like Chief Legal Officer of the Swiss Football League, Marc Juillerat, General Legal Counsel for the South African Premier Soccer League, Michael Murphy, World Leagues Forum General Secretary, Jerome Perlemuter, and the LaLiga Global Network Delegate in South Africa, Enrique Suay, at the symposium.
This is how we should be managing our football, and concentrating on improving its brand, and we are happy to see that the PSL is doing just that and the results on the pitch, especially when it comes to the CAF inter-club competitions, are also showing we are moving in the right direction.