Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League
Football in Zimbabwe cannot be fully understood without mentioning the Premier Soccer League. The Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League is the country’s top flight football league which runs every year with about 18 teams from different regions of the country. The football initiative which is the biggest in the country is run by the national soccer governing body; Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) which also falls under the international body FIFA.
2018 Castle Premier Soccer League Standings
It is not an exaggeration to say that Zimbabwe is a football loving community. Every weekend between April and November is soccer galore. Popular stadiums such as Rufaro Stadium in Mbare, the National Sports Stadium, Gwanzura, Babourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, Mandava in Zvishavane, Colliery in Hwange, and Mucheke in Masvingo are usually full of football activity every Saturdays and Sundays when top flight teams will be rubbing shoulders with each other.
In most instances, the PSL games are played during weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Perhaps the reason being the need to allow the soccer loving public an opportunity to concentrate on the games when they are not committed to work related business which is usually Monday to Friday. However on some rare occasions, the games are played during the midweek especially Wednesdays and Thursdays. This provision is usually meant to allow teams with the least number of games to catch up with the others. The traditional kick-off time in Zimbabwe is 1500 hours.
The PSL has traditionally been made up of 16 teams from different parts of the country but in the last two seasons the teams have been increased to the current number of 18. There are some teams however which have stood the taste of time as thy have spent successive years in the league. These include the so called Harare Giants teams Dynamos Football Club which has for long been using the Rufaro Stadium as their home ground. There is also Caps United Football Club which has been using the National Sports Stadium in Harare as its home ground. Bulawayo based Highlanders Football Club also known as Bosso is also one of the oldest football teams in the country and has registered considerable success in the game of football. Other teams such as Black Rhinos Football Club, Hwange Football Club and Motor Action have also earned respect in the PSL due to their different successes.
Promotion and Relegation in the PSL
Every year there is a demotion and promotion affair which takes place in the PSL in Zimbabwe. The last four teams with the poorest results are relegated into the Division One League which is a lower version of the PSL. The four teams automatically give room to new teams which are selected again on the basis of performance. The teams are selected from the First Division Leagues which are Northern Region, Southern Region, Eastern Region, and Central Region. Thus the one outstanding team is selected from each region to enter into the top flight football league in the country.
The local Premier League has over the years has seen different fortunes in as far as sponsorship is concerned. However, the longest marriage that the Premier League witnessed was the beverages giant Castle Lager. This partnership had the provision that the league will also adopt a franchise which would benefit the company’s brand name and products. For his reason, the league was known as the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League throughout the period when the beverages company was the major partner. As part of the sponsorship deal, the beverages company was mandated to pump money into the league by paying a certain proportion of the expenses incurred by the teams.
During the 2014 soccer season, Delta Beverages through its Castle Lager brand pumped about 3.6 million into the soccer league for the whole duration of the season. In return the firm was also given the task to provide the much needed funding for the running of the most popular game. These responsibilities saw the firm sponsoring prizes at end of every soccer season. The prizes included trophies as well as money form the winning teams as well as the runner ups.
There is widespread concern that the PSL has failed to give good upkeep for the talented players. This has resulted in some PSL teams failing to fulfil international games due to players’ strikes as a result of non-payment of allowances. The economic plight which has negatively affected the league has also seen the exodus of talented players leaving the country for South Africa, United Kingdom, and Germany. Some of the players that the PSL has produced include Peter Ndlovu, Moses Chunga, Patson Jaure, Kingstone Nkatha among others.