THIS weekend will see the staging of the Chibuku Super Cup whose first round matches will be played around the country today and tomorrow.
The Chibuku Super Cup, which is now the country’s premier knockout football competition, returns on our local football radar for the second year running after it was temporarily shelved in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which forced all the sporting activities in this country to be put on ice.
Sadly, this competition will this year be played while we are facing an international football ban which was imposed on us by the world’s football governing body, FIFA, earlier this year for what they termed as ‘’third party interference’’ after the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board was booted out by the Sports Commission for gross incompetence, among other things.
Although Zimbabwe is still facing these sanctions from FIFA, football is still being played in the country with the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship race slowly getting to its business end and will this weekend be disrupted by the staging of the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup.
All the Premiership teams, save for Cranborne Bullets and Bulawayo City, will this weekend shift focus from the league to the country’s premier knockout competition which is being bankrolled by Delta Beverages who are also the sponsors of the Castle Lager Premiership.
Delta Beverages should be commended for coming on board to back these two competitions despite the harsh economic climate which has seen a number of sponsors pulling out from sponsoring football in this country.
Once-upon-a-time football in Zimbabwe was awash with a number of sponsors and it was unheard of to have only one knockout competition in this country.
In the 1970s and early part of the 1980s, our local top-flight teams used to enjoy competing in a number of knockout competitions such as the BAT Rosebowl, the Nyore Nyore Shield, the Rothmans Shield, Chibuku Trophy and the irreplaceable Castle Cup.
In fact, local teams couldn’t wait to play in the Castle Cup as it was the country’s premier knockout competition for years and it involved almost all the teams as its knockout stages used to start from the lower divisions before the top-flight giants joined in in what was called the first round proper.
Giant-killing acts were the order the day in this competition year in and year out; and it made football in this country more exciting.
Sadly, the Castle Cup, just like the BAT Rosebowl, the Nyore Nyore Shield and Rothmans Shield, has disappeared from the local football radar without any trace as the domestic league’s standards deteriorate by each passing year.
It’s not a secret that out football is crying out for more sponsors who will bring the glory days back but this can only happen if our football leaders, the Premier Soccer League, in particular, could turn their league into a sellable brand.
Football is a big brand world over and we just have to look at how the sport is being run by our neighbours South Africa who run their league professionally and there is no bickering or unending boardroom squabbles which we witness almost every year in our domestic football.
Almost all the teams in the DStv South African Premiership enjoy some good sponsorship from that country’s corporate world and it’s all because of how their football leaders have been running their league which also follows the European calendar that runs from August to May.
Here in Zimbabwe, we are still stuck in tradition. We are still playing our football from February or March to November or December and we are still lagging behind in terms of developing our game and turning it into an eye-catching product which will attract more sponsors.
It’s unbelievable that in this day and age, the local top-flight, which has 18 teams, has only attracted one major sponsor – Delta Beverages – who bankroll both the league championship and the Chibuku Super Cup, which, sadly, is now our premier knockout competition.
It’s high time the Premier Soccer League leadership have a self-introspection, take our football seriously and turn it into a big brand which they can sell to the corporate world.
They need to entice more sponsors to come on board as we desperately need more cup competitions in this country. A good marketing strategy is needed from the PSL.
We need knockout competitions such as the BP League Cup, the Buddie Challenge Cup, Madison Trophy, OK Woza Bhora and BancABC Super Cup, which we used to enjoy in the 1990s and at the turn of the new millennium, back in our domestic football calendar.
This will, in turn, help in bringing back the fans, who have of late deserted our stadiums, to watch our football more like what used to happen in the 1970s and the 1980s.