By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Although Highlanders FC seem to have turned the corner on the field of play, the same can’t be said about the administrative side following allegations of horrid camping conditions.
Players said they were being forced to share one room in groups of five, while some members of the technical team don’t camp at all and join the team at the stadium in what is seen as austerity measures by Bosso.
“Our camping conditions are really not good at all. Imagine five of us sharing one room and not only that; the room will be having a single toilet and one shower, forcing us to take turns when bathing and even when responding to the call of nature.
“As you are aware lodges’ toilets are not the same as a normal household toilet so it really presents a bad situation as we are no longer enjoying that privacy,” said one player.
Another player said team management seems not bothered about their welfare outside the playing situation.
Chronicle Sport understands that NetOne takes care of Highlanders’ camping needs when they are playing away, while the team is expected to meet its own expenses for home matches.
“From what we understand, our sponsors pay about $6 000 to service providers for our camping costs and so far for those games that we have played outside Bulawayo we really can’t complain because the conditions have been excellent.
“However, as you are also aware we played some of our away games in Bulawayo against Chicken Inn and TelOne, meaning the sponsors paid for camp needs but, the club then chose to cut costs by taking us to a low budget place that costs maybe half that amount so that they avoid meeting the camping costs for our two home games,” said another player.
Contacted for comment, Highlanders’ public relations officer Ronald Moyo said he was not aware that the players were not happy with their camping conditions, noting that the team has proper grievance handling procedures.
“Those complaints should have been directed to the welfare manager, who is there specifically to deal with such matters. The players know the procedures to follow if they have a complaint and by rushing to the press, they are jumping the gun.
“I am sure there is a reasonable explanation why it was seen fit for them to share one room in fives. I am not authoritatively saying that because I too am not aware, but if they formally bring their issue to the attention of the club, I am sure they will get a satisfactory explanation,” said Moyo.
However, the players said they were now afraid to raise grievances in view of what happened during the pre-season preparations.
“Look, we know all these procedures, but we don’t know how these complaints will be handled by the club if we raise them. Victimisation is known at Highlanders even if they tell the public otherwise, but my brother when in camp it’s a mockery of an institution as big as Highlanders.
“It can’t even be bonding because that also involves the whole team not only those picked for the game. What explanation do they have for some members of the technical team not camping? As players, we are now doing our part on the field and it will be good for the club to do its part as well,” a player said.
Highlanders recorded their second win on the trot when they beat ZPC Kariba 2-0 at Barbourfields Stadium last Sunday and they take on Yadah at Rufaro Stadium on Saturday before returning home for the flagship Premier Soccer League fixture against Dynamos the following week. The Chronicle