Playing football without a goalie!

HARARE – This year will mark the 44th anniversary of the English Professional Footballers Association (PFA) Awards.

The awards are given to outstanding players across all the divisions including the eight women football teams.

To help the football fans both in England and Wales and those around the world understand the criteria, the PFA clearly explains how its voting system works which I have copied and pasted below.

The PFA representatives deliver the ballot forms to the training ground of the 92 League clubs and 8 WSL clubs.

Amongst the instructions and procedures that a player is given is that they are not allowed to vote for a player who is at the same club as themselves. This applies for both the PFA Players' Player of the Year Award and also the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Another stipulation is that a player can only win an award if their club has taken part in the ballot, this ensures that all players from other clubs that have voted have a fair chance of winning an award. After a member has decided who they are voting for they must sign, fold and then give their envelope to the PFA representative who will seal the vote.

The PFA use an independent company to count and verify the votes cast, and completed ballots are sent directly to Beever & Struthers Chartered Accountants.

I have chosen the PFA to compare with our Soccer Star of the Year awards here in Zimbabwe.

All Premiership coaches and their captains as well as journalists, gather at the end of the season, like what happened on Tuesday this week, to select players who would have had an outstanding season.

In total, they choose 11 players. At their Tuesday’s conclave, where over 70 people voted, the panellists deliberately did not consider any goalkeeper as they felt no one was good enough to make the cut.

Bizarrely, they also felt that their scandalous decision was justified because the goalkeepers had their own award — the Goalkeeper of the Year — over and above the main selection of the 11 outstanding players.

This is baloney and there is no justification whatsoever for that decision.

On one hand, the selectors felt there was no goalkeeper deserving of selection but on the other, endorse an award which recognises that which they refused to acknowledge in their main selection process.

I would understand it if the selectors felt there was no deserving goalkeeper to make the final list of 11 and went on to also suspend honouring the best goalkeeper in the Goalkeeper of The Year awards.

They would have shown consistency. In light of this, it is only fair to say that choosing the Soccer Star of The Year should be left to players themselves to avoid sullying the reputation of the sponsors of these important awards.

It appears most of the people who voted used emotions and their hearts instead of objectivity. And the idea of continuing to have journalists as part of the voting panel, does not augur well for the credibility of these awards.

The fact that they report on football does not mean they are experts on the game. I belong to this profession but I have serious reservations on the calibre of some of the people given this special but privileged task.

To prove a point, most of the journalists gave rave views to Black Rhinos goalkeeper, Herbert Rusawo, for his outstanding performances for Black Rhinos in the first half of the Premiership season.

Rusawo earned his first call-up to the Warriors team for the Chan game against Namibia.

The same scribes lavished with praise Chicken Inn’s Elvis Chipezeze, Dynamos’ Tonderai Mateyaunga and Wallace Magalane, who helped FC Platinum win the title in the second half of the season.

Strangely, when it came to selection of the best goalkeeper, they formed part of a decision which characterised these goalkeepers as mediocre.

The 2017 Soccer Star of the Year panel perhaps believes that football should be played without a goalkeeper.

It is not difficult to see why: it is behaving like the enemy of football — trying to re-invent it through bungling of the highest order — which fortunately cannot go unchallenged!

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