THE FOOTBALL season ended on a high note at the weekend with a well-organised Mbada Diamonds Cup decider at Barbourfields Stadium which Highlanders deservedly won against their hoodoo opponents How Mine.
The end of the season has given all clubs, from all divisions, time to plan for the next season.
There have been a lot of plaudits for Mbada Holdings for the way in which the country’s richest knock-out tournament was handled — fans went into stadia for an affordable $1 to watch their favourite teams while the clubs went home richer, including even the losers.
Despite losing to neighbours Highlanders, How Mine pocket almost $200 000 when the subsidy to participating in the African continental jamboree is taken into account.
Talking about planning, a management guru says that “Failure to plan is planning to fail”, clearly arguing that there should always be one form or another of continuous planning in all organisations, football clubs included.
This is, therefore, a call on the executive committees of football teams in Zimbabwe to now take advantage of the off-season and put in some serious planning for the new season.
The massive challenges that football clubs face today, some of them even threatening the very survival of clubs, can only be tackled successfully through planning and the continuous review of the plans as the season progresses.
Unfortunately, it would appear most of our football clubs are managed without any planning, living from one day to another on an ad hoc basis with the little bit of planning being the training of the team in preparation for matches.
Of course, the majority of clubs in this country are managed by elected committees who have other commitments elsewhere and can hardly spare much time, especially some time away from home for a concerted strategic planning retreat.
Another snag is that in most clubs the tenure of an executive committee, while specified in the constitution, is not always seen out, even if the team is playing well because of either factionalism or existence of negative elements within the club, elements who just do not want to see progress, never mind stability, in the club.
A third, but major problem, is that financial accountability is rather lax in most clubs, for several reasons, and proper planning is not wanted or desired by elements who have sticky palms and fingers!
Planning also allows for a proper performance evaluation of an executive committee, particularly if the plan is made public to at least bona fide members of the club.
We all know that some of us have a culture that finds performance evaluation an anathema which should be avoided at all costs and the easiest way to ensure there is no accountability of performance is not to have an instrument to judge this performance against.
Also, quite a good number of people in the executive committees simply do not have the capability to plan – they do not know what a strategic plan is and do not have the guts to admit as such.
This is maybe one of the reasons why the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is failing to bring a little bit of professionalism to the clubs, despite its tremendous efforts in urging clubs to adopt modern management structures and methods.
The clubs who do not have the capability and capacity to put a plan in place on their own should not, nonetheless, be disadvantaged as there are a lot of individuals and organisations, the PSL included, who can be hired, at very reasonable charges, to lead a strategic retreat and guide the executive committee members through the process.
It is not prudent to have the strategic plan, and the document thereof, drawn up by an external consultant without the active participation of the executive committee as such a plan is invariably incongruent with the actual situation in the club.
The truth that cannot be denied, especially in this day and age, is that without proper strategic planning, a club has no direction and does not have systems that promote the continual development of its brand.
Even in cases where a club may apparently be doing very well, a strategic plan would certainly enhance this success. In fact, without a strategic plan, the success is limited and is most certainly at an optimal level.
Moving away from planning at individual clubs, both Zifa and the PSL need to look, together with clubs and other relevant stakeholders, at the sponsorship packages in local football so that the levels of these packages are at their possible best come next season.
There are several variables to take into account when appraising a package and it is necessary that all the relevant stakeholders sit down together and first agree on the weight each variables carries in the sponsorship relationship and then use these weights to arrive at an agreeable level of sponsorship.
Going by dissenting voices from several clubs, the packages that were in place in the outgoing season appeared to be been presented to clubs fait accompli — and some of these voices have been brought before disciplinary committees for apparently upsetting the sponsors.
Sponsorship packages are of public interest and debating them, whether in support of the levels or against them, should not be putting the game of football into disrepute.
There is nothing wrong with one holding a view that some sponsorship package is peanuts and expressing such view in public.
What needs to be done, by the sponsors and those who believe the levels are the ones commensurate with the situation in Zimbabwe, is simply to argue their case and state all the reasons why they think the deals are the best possible.