3 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Hats Off to FC Platinum's Bold Cholera Initiative

editorial

FC PLATINUM'S bold initiative to use their position and influence as champions of domestic football to play a leading role in the fight against cholera is a huge step in the right direction by a team transforming itself into a model club in this country.

The Zvishavane miners, who are set to represent Zimbabwe in the CAF Champions League after their historic triumph in the domestic Premiership in which they became the first club -- from outside Harare and Bulawayo -- to win the domestic top-flight championship in more than 50 years.

It will be FC Platinum's second dance in CAF's premier inter-club tournament in six years after they made their debut in the tourney six years ago, following a runners-up slot in the Premier Soccer League championship race.

The cub's leadership believe FC Platinum, because of their growing profile in which they have transformed themselves from being an obscure Division One team just eight years ago, to become one of the biggest brands in the local Premiership, they have to play a bigger role in national issues rather than merely restricting themselves to playing football and trying to win trophies.

Already, we have seen the England national cricket team adopt the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign aimed at reducing the amount of plastics in the world's oceans. This shows that sports teams around the world are now embracing their responsibility to also key roles in issues far away from the sporting fields and use their massive influence to make a change within their communities.

And FC Platinum parent company, FC Platinum Holdings, believe they have a role they should play in our communities and have taken the initiative to work with the Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, to fight cholera in the country.

The Zvishavane club have in the past conducted clean-up exercises in Zvishavane and also used their players and coaching staff to get into their community and fight the spread of HIV and Aids by spreading messages related to the importance of the use of condoms, abstinence, testing and the need for those affected by this condition to regularly take their medicine.

Now, their mission is to try and fight the cholera outbreak and they have come up with a jingle raising awareness of this disease. The jingle features a commentary, as if FC Platinum are featuring in a football match against cholera, and how they eventually defeat their opponent through an approach that can also help the communities around the country deal with the outbreak.

The washing of hands with soap, preparation of hot meals and clean toilets are emphasised as weapons which FC Platinum used to defeat cholera and which our communities could also adapt to ensure this disease doesn't spread.

"As the League champions we believe that we should play a big role in terms of dealing with issues affecting our communities," the club told this newspaper. It's our small way of playing our part and we are doing it in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

"As a football team, the health of our players, our officials, our supporters and our opponents is something that we place a lot of value on and that is why we got involved in this and hopefully the message will be heard."

This is very commendable because we have always argued that we would not leave everything in the hands of the Government, but we can, everyone playing their small part, defeat the challenges that confront us as a nation.

We are happy to note that the dynamic FC Platinum leadership have taken the initiative to help the Government because we are stronger as a nation when we are united and proactive in dealing with any challenge that we face.

Sports stars, by nature, are very influential individuals in our society and their fans tend to listen to them when they speak and that is why the FC Platinum campaign is a progressive one and we are happy to see that the Premier Soccer League, as we report elsewhere in this newspaper, have come out in full support of this initiative.

After all, there is a lot of food that is sold outside our stadiums on Match Days and, with thousands of people converging there to watch their football teams, this could provide an easy breeding ground for the spread of such diseases like cholera.

Hopefully, we will also see the other major football clubs in this country, notably Dynamos, CAPS United, Highlanders and Ngezi Platinum, whose nearby Chegutu community was hard hit by a cholera outbreak, joining this important initiative.

Football should never fool itself that it lives in an island because, as we saw with the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the game becomes a victim when this happens as a number of countries -- Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone -- were barred from hosting international football matches within their borders until the outbreak was contained.

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