The second edition of the National Premier League (NPL) is set to get underway this Sunday, with 10 teams at different venues across the country seeking a perfect start to the elite club tournament.
In order to take part in the national one-day league, teams qualify on merit through provincial club competitions.
The 2021/22 NPL will see Gladiators, Harare Kings, Takashinga Patriots 1 and Takashinga Patriots 2 representing the Harare Metropolitan province, while Bulawayo Metropolitan has Amakhosi and Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC) participating.
The other clubs involved in the league this time round are Westside from Manicaland, Great Zimbabwe Patriots from Masvingo and Nortonians from Midlands-Mashonaland West, while an academy side, Lions, comes in as the 10th team.
As action gets underway on Sunday, defending champions Takashinga Patriots 1 will face Nortonians at Sunrise Sports Club in Harare.
Across the capital, Old Hararians Sports Club will host two matches, with BAC taking on Westside and Harare Kings entertaining Lions on the other pitch.
Amakhosi will clash with Takashinga Patriots 2 at Kwekwe Sports Club, while Gladiators and Great Zimbabwe Patriots will complete matchday one action at Masvingo Sports Club.
The next round of matches is scheduled for next Wednesday.
A total of 45 matches will be played over a month, with the side that finishes top of the standings winning the NPL trophy and prize money.
Zimbabwe Cricket Managing Director Givemore Makoni said he was expecting the 2021/22 edition to be a competitive and exciting tournament.
“We are dedicating time and resources in our bid to make the NPL the biggest club competition – across all sporting disciplines – in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“As you would know, one of our most important tasks is the sustainable promotion of our players at the appropriate level.
“The NPL is a vital part of this and it will help to bridge the all-important gap between amateur club cricket and provincial representative cricket, giving our players the perfect platform to prepare them for a lasting career in the sport.
“In the long run, we hope that this initiative, plus many others that are underway or in the pipeline, will give a fresh impetus to our national teams’ on-field fortunes.”
Spectators who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be permitted to watch all NPL matches in person free of charge.
Selected matches will be live-streamed on Zimbabwe Cricket’s YouTube channel and website, while ball-by-ball coverage will also be available on the Zimbabwe Cricket mobile app.