ONE thing that captured my attention on Thursday, this week, was the decision by the TFF to sanction the committee responsible for preparing fixtures for Vodacom Premier League clubs.
I must admit, I was profoundly touched by the decision because it had, for a long time, been a practice, and a wrong one at that, by the committee to change the fixture whenever it felt like doing it. Continuous change of fixtures were so rampant that, it was sometimes not difficult to link it with efforts to favour certain teams in the league.
After the election of a new leadership in the TFF, some remnants from the past in the committee appeared set to continue with the practice they were used to, change the fixture after just one or two rounds of matches in the league.
Fortunately, the newly elected leadership was quick to notice the anomaly, hence its decision to bring the obnoxious practice to a halt. Apart from halting the de plorable practice, the TFF noted that from now onwards, once a fixture has been worked out, no changes would be made until the end of the league season.
This is what we really need to see happening in our league if we are to have a strong league that is not open, in any way, to manipulations by others, including some elements from the TFF. Yes, we need to have the kind of fixture that is not only permanent, but which does not favour other teams in the league.
For instance, it is wrong to have some teams in the league playing all their last ten matches at home while others play their last ten or more matches away. One does not need to be a football expert to know the implication of the two foregoing scenarios.
Certainly a team that plays its last ten or more matches at home stand a better chance of manipulating results to its favour than that which plays away from home. That is why stopping the committee from changing the fixture, time and again, is not enough.
The new TFF leadership also needs to ensure that whatever fixture that has been worked out by the committee is fair to all the teams in the league. For until and unless the fixture is fair to each and every team in the league, chances of getting wrong team as league champions is very much possible.
That is why the TFF’s decision to act against the committee was not only timely, but also very commendable. The newly elected TFF leadership need to review many oth er practices that are presently handled by the organization’s secretariat, practices which are inimical to the wellbeing of the league.
One other thing that the new TFF leadership needs to critically look into is the question of the role of soccer academies to the Vodacom premier league. For the premier league to be meaningful, teams taking part in the league must be blended by youth, and in particular, from soccer academies.
Therefore, if the TFF want to make a meaningful change in the country’s soccer, as far as its development and growth is con cerned, then they need to blend the league with players from soccer academies.
And one of the best ways of doing that is to make it mandatory for VPL clubs to establish and run scientifically soccer academies. One way of ensuring that, that is done to the letter is by making mandatory for all premier league clubs to promote, at least two players from within the club’s soccer academy, into the senior team.
It is extremely important for the new TFF leadership to start focusing on soccer academies because this country cannot develop in the game as long as it continues to rely on outdated methods of getting players for premier league clubs.
If you look around African countries that are doing well in soccer at present, you will notice that most of them are those which have embraced, in total, soccer academy as the main source of their players.
Barely two months ago well saw how Zambia’s U-20 national team performed in the World Cup in South Korea. That team that turned out to be the only survivor in the tournament from Africa has now replaced the senior Zambia national soccer team, Chipolopolo.
And the way they performed in South Korea, there is no way Taifa Stars would be able to take the Zambians. In conclusion, the new TFF leadership needs to make follow up on the U-17 Serengeti Boys which did quite well a few months ago during the African Youth Championship in Gabon.
They need to continue to nurture the team so that it can take part in the U-20 and later in the U-21 African soccer tournaments before they finally take over the country’s new Taifa Stars.