PREMIER Soccer League and Division One players in Harare’s high-density suburbs are defying lockdown regulations by playing “money games.”
The 2020 Premiership season, which was originally scheduled to begin in March, is on hold as the country battles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Football activities might begin around July with the 2020 season tentatively planned to get underway in August/September. Currently, footballers and supporting staff are supposed to be confined at home while taking part in individual training programmes.
But, that is not the case as the players are engaging in “money games” in the suburbs.
On Saturday, The Herald witnessed several high-profile players playing what appeared to be a well-organised match where winners pocketed US$120 at Budiriro 3 Community Grounds.
The match, which also had curtain-raisers consisting mainly Division One players, pitted Budiriro Select versus Glen Norah Select.
Only two weeks ago, the game pitting the same sides was cut short at Budiriro 1 Community Grounds by police and soldiers. Former Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United striker Rodreck Mutuma, who is on crutches, had the money the teams were playing for.
CAPS United midfielder, Blessing Sarupinda, Devon Chafa of Ngezi Platinum Stars, Dynamos’ Barnabas Mushunje, Harare City utility Learnmore Muyambo and ex-Yadah midfielder Wimbikai Kaseke were some of the notable figures during both matches.
One of the players, who granted this publication an interview on condition he won’t be named, said his team had cut salaries and that travel, camping and match allowances were no longer coming and this had complicated their plight. “Besides being always used to play football, there are a lot of considerations which you have to take note of,” he said.
“I might be playing for one of the most respected teams in the country but, look, our salaries have been cut.
“It’s a justifiable decision by any measure because we are not rendering the services which we signed contracts for. “But, look, we had been used to having full salaries, as well as other allowances, that come with playing professional football week in, week out.
“We are just doing this not only to keep fit but to supplement what our clubs are giving us.”
Another one said being confined at home was a painful experience.
“We are used to be playing football before many fans.
“In as much as we want to supplement what we are getting from our teams, we also want to be playing football. That’s why you see us here.”
So organised are these money games that there is a fixture which the suburbs select sides follow. The programme is so intensive that a team plays after every two days.