Eddie Chikamhi in Harare and Mukudzei Chingwere in Gweru
IN an unprecedented move on the domestic scene, Premiership champions FC Platinum have chosen to give their players a Christmas to savour by deciding that Norman Mapeza and his charges will share all the money they won from their memorable league and cup double this year.
FC Platinum ended the 51-year dominance that Harare and Bulawayo-based clubs had enjoyed on the Premiership title by edging Dynamos to the 2017 title.
The Zvishavane miners, who will be Zimbabwe’s sole representatives in continental football next year, then sealed a memorable season when they won the Castle Challenge Cup — a one-off tournament staged to commemorate the Premier Soccer League’s Silver Jubilee.
FC Platinum are set to be given $100 000 for winning the championship while another $30 000 will flow into their victory over Chibuku Super Cup winners Harare City in the Castle Challenge Cup.
The history making FC Platinum squad is made-up of 25 players and 10 members of the technical department.
Should the club decide that the money be shared equally amongst members of the team it means everyone in the squad will have slightly over $3 700 for the festive season.
Club spokesperson Chido Chizondo, in confirming their decision, said it’s FC Platinum’s way of saying “well-done’’ to Mapeza and his men.
“The players and the technical department did very well this season and as a club we are very happy for what they achieved. Winning the title together with the challenge cup is not a small achievement and we are very happy for that.
“As a way of saying well done, the club decided that all the money we will get from the sponsors for winning these cups (League and Challenge Cup) will be shared among the players and the technical department.
“When someone has done well, it is just nice to recognise their efforts and for us that was our recognition for a job well-done.
“So when the money comes, it is for the team, a token of appreciation for what they have achieved,” said Chizondo.
The unprecedented move by the FC Platinum management will also serve to motivate the team as they prepare to storm into the Champions League in which they face Angola’s Deportivo Primiero de Agosto, in the preliminary round.
FC Platinum also dominated the Castle Soccer Stars awards night, with striker Rodwell Chinyengetere landing the best footballer accolade while defender Kelvin Moyo came second and Mapeza was ordained as the Coach of the Year.
Mapeza, happy with the gesture by the management, said he has always implored his players that “with hard work, nothing is impossible in football’’.
“I think it is a motivation to the rest of the guys who are playing for FC Platinum that with hard work, anything is achievable.
“I have always told them that guys it is about hard work. It is about discipline, determination and dedication if you have those three Ds nothing is impossible in football,” said Mapeza.
FC Platinum have however, shelved their end of year awards ceremony as priority has been given to chasing the CAF deadline to register their squad by December 31 and Chizondo said they are now looking to stage the event next month.
“The awards have been postponed and they will be held in January on a date to be advised. As a club we have a very busy schedule preparing for the CAF Champions league.
“There is a deadline we are chasing to submit our squad for the competition and we decided not to do many things at once. So the awards will be held in January,” said Chizondo.
But it is the club’s gesture to reward the championship winning squad that has left the players as excited as their coach.
Centre-back Gift Bello, a member of the club captaincy implored on his teammates to invest the incentives wisely.
“As players we will be very happy to get such recognition. You know anyone just needs to be acknowledged for what they have done.
“We just need to use the money wisely when it comes and that is what we are always telling each other, the importance of investment.
“Once again, I want to thank the club for what they have promised. As players we are very happy and really appreciate this. Thank you to the club once again,” said Bello.
League runners-up Dynamos have also sought to reward their players from turning around a season that seemed destined for a fight against relegation into a battle for the title that stretched to the wire.
Dynamos will hold their awards night tomorrow at a function that could give their skipper Ocean Mushure a chance to get some redemption after finishing third on the Castle Soccer Stars calendar.
Mushure did not take kindly to the outcome of the Castle Soccer Stars awards and felt cheated but now looks to get his consolation tomorrow when the Glamour Boys host their own Player of the Year awards.
Dynamos secretary-general Webster Marechera revealed that DeMbare, in conjunction with their principal sponsors BancABC, have lined up the awards ceremony to show appreciation to their players for their strong performances in the season.
Marechera said they will have at least five categories which include the Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Loyal Player and The Most Improved Player.
“Generally, I think we had a good season and we have to part with our players for Christmas on a good note. The guys did well to fight all the way until the last day of the championship, considering we had lost almost an entire team.
“We had many players, some of whom were unknown but by the time the season ended they were household names. Many people thought we could be fighting relegation but these guys proved them wrong.
“Dynamos is a big brand. Players come and go but the brand remains. We had young and energetic players who wanted to make names for themselves and they performed beyond expectations.
“We are thankful to our sponsors BancABC for hosting these awards. We have worked very well with them for a long time,” said Marechera.
Mushure, who was the mainstay of the team in their fight for the championship, has a strong case to make despite the Glamour Boys just falling short in the race in which they ended two points behind FC Platinum with 69 points, who battled hard to win their debut league title. DeMbare coach Lloyd Mutasa was also a contender for the Coach of the Year award which eventually went to Mapeza.
Mutasa however, is set to get a special honour from his employers for putting together from scratch a formidable side capable of fighting for the title.
Dynamos had to start on a new slate at the beginning of the season after they lost the bulk of their core players due to their inability to compete with the other teams on the market.
The team defied the adverse predictions by prophets of doom and transformed themselves from potential relegation candidates to championship contenders after Mutasa had assembled the squad through the unorthodox means of holding trials.
“We feel our coach did a very splendid job. If you remember at one time there was a time that some people wanted to influence us to fire him after a few games but we understood his vision and decided to stick with him despite the pressure.
“Considering where we were coming from, he did a splendid job with this team. We even finished above some of the teams like Ngezi Platinum who had lured players from our team. So resources permitting, we also have to honour him properly,” said Marechera.
Marechera also revealed DeMbare are keen to retain the bulk of the players who made up their team in the just-ended season for the sake of continuity.