AMBITIOUS Zvishavane side FC Platinum are living a dream after they sealed another successful season by winning the biggest prize in domestic football, the Castle Lager Premiership title.
For the second year running, the platinum miners have been crowned the football kings of Zimbabwe.
What makes this feat remarkable is that they have won this year’s race with two games to spare in a league that has been decided on the last day of the season for the past nine years.
The last time the championship was wrapped up with at least a game to spare was in 2009 when Gunners FC, then coached by Zimbabwe legend Moses Chunga, shook off the challenge of giants Dynamos in the penultimate game of the season.
FC Platinum have done well under Norman Mapeza in the last five years as they have grown gradually with corresponding results from a top four finish in 2014 to number three in 2015 and then second place in 2016.
With their level of organisation and professionalism, it looks like the dominance they have demonstrated in the last two years could take long to break.
In fact, they are on course for a record points haul this season if they win their last two games against Ngezi Platinum and Highlanders.
Last year, they won their maiden championship with 72 points, but they have since surpassed that mark after hopping to 74 points with two games remaining.
CAPS United hold the record for the highest points tally in a season, having accumulated 79 points during the 2004 season.
If Pure Platinum Play win their remaining two fixtures, then they will hit the unprecedented 80-point mark.
FIFA have wasted no time in sending their congratulatory message, with president of the world football mother body Gianni Infantino dispatching a warm note to the new champions this week via ZIFA.
And the question beckons: Is this the beginning of a revolution to mark a shift in the balance of power from the traditional Big Three – Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders – to the well-organised corporate-owned teams?
What exactly have they been doing right that the other teams are failing to do?
FC Platinum are one of the few local teams that have gone the distance in trying to meet the strict requirements under the CAF Club Licensing system.
While most of the teams, including the Big Three, are still showing signs of resistance, the platinum miners have been taking huge strides in implementing the regulations which help develop football in line with global standards.
Among other things, the CAF Club Licensing system seeks to develop sporting infrastructure, improving the financial capacity of clubs, enhancing the professionalism, cultivate administrative capacities and also maintaining continuous development of grassroots talent.
Unlike most of the local teams that do not have stadiums to call their own, FC Platinum have done well by renovating Mandava Stadium into a sophisticated facility that is capable of hoisting international matches.
In terms of corporate governance, they have been setting the pace. They have well-defined structures that have always delivered sound administration and good football decisions.
They have made mistakes along the way but they learnt tough lessons from their gaffes. Just like their less experienced “platinum cousins’’ Ngezi Platinum, who recently fired coach Tonderai Ndiraya at a crucial phase and with dire consequences, FC Platinum also contemplated sacking their coach Mapeza at one stage.
But after investing in the former Zimbabwe captain and giving him a long-term contract the results have shown and Mapeza has repaid that trust shown in him.
The developments of the last two seasons should demonstrate to all in domestic football including in those in the lower leagues that success cannot come overnight.
It is a result of massive investment in time, hard work, discipline, skills and resources.
Mimosa Mines must also be commended for setting up a special business vehicle – FC Platinum Holdings – to cater for the sponsorship of the football club and cushioning it from the financial burdens that weigh down most of the PSL teams.
And now they can stand tall and challenge the long-standing hegemony of the country’s Big Three who share 32 titles among them.
FC Platinum’s success story has also served as a reality check for Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United, who have been basking in past history and would now have to change their ways if they are to retain their dominance.
Dynamos have not won the league in the last four years, CAPS United were champions just two years ago while Highlanders last won the title 12 years ago.
A clear testimony of how wise investment pays off is that where FC Platinum have been popping the champagne to celebrate another championship, Dynamos have had to deal with the ignominy of fighting against relegation.
But it is not just Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United who should draw lessons from FC Platinum’s Cinderella story, it should be an example to all the clubs.
Our Premiership needs to retain its competitive edge and attract the huge crowds that used to grace stadiums over the years.