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Spotlight back on Zimbabwe's major stadia

by Staff reporter
09 Mar 2021 at 06:19hrs | Views
THE spotlight is back on the country's stadia following the preliminary inspections by ZIFA, which began last week.

As anticipation around the return of domestic football grows, the association, together with some officials from the Premier Soccer League, are currently going around venues, across the country.

Last week, the grounds committee visited venues such as Baobab, Vengere and Sakubva.

They also toured the National Sports Stadium, Rufaro and Morris Depot, which are some of the proposed Harare venues to host top-flight matches, once local league is given the greenlight to return.

The ZIFA First Instance Body, the club licensing arm of the association, were only expected to move in, and do their final inspection and assessment of the stadia, once the local authorities have met some recommendations made from the association's preliminary committee.

Yesterday, ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, refused to shed more light on the preliminary inspection, and said they are still working on the reports. But, as expected, the grounds committee found that most of the facilities were still in a state of neglect, with a lot of work still required, to bring them up to the minimum required standards.

For Harare, the National Sports Stadium has made some significant progress, after the Government made it their top priority, using the prolonged lockdown period, to spruce-up the facility.

The Warren Park facility was last year banned from hosting international matches by CAF, before getting a temporary reprieve.

A lot of work has since been done by the Government, with a state-of-the-art media tribunal, medical centre and dressing rooms, among other things, being installed. However, it has not been the same for the Council-owned facilities, with Rufaro still in a deplorable state.

Gwanzura, which hasn't hosted league matches in years, is in a worse off position. And, the grounds committee found out that nothing tangible was done, since Rufaro was flagged by the ZIFA First Instance Body, early last year. Harare City Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme, yesterday said they were affected by the lockdown, in terms of manpower and resources, and cash inflows remained a big challenge to the authority.

The council's head of education and social services, Lizzy Muchena, told reporters in January their financial situation had slowed the refurbishment works. She, however, said attention will be given to the grounds, once the financial situation improves.

"The renovations at Rufaro have been hampered by the financial situation in the Council and it's not a priority right now because health is the number one priority. "We also have refuse collection, and roads that needs to be done first, before we even start to talk about the stadiums.

"So, for the stadiums, as soon as the financial situation goes back as it used to be, (we are) going back to the stadiums.

"But, right now, they are not a priority," said Muchena.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police have been carrying out some maintenance work at their Morris Depot stadium. ZRP Sports Staff Officer, Abel Chimukoko, said they were working on meeting FIFA standards, and have used the Covid-19 break, to work on the ground.

"We are trying to meet FIFA standards and right now we are working on aluminium goalposts.

''At the same time, we have engaged stakeholders and we are working with technicians.

"We are also working on the pitch and perimetre fence. "The workforce was affected by lockdown.

"Some of the recommendations are long-term and there are specific people working on it. "On dressing rooms, I cannot give timelines but we are working on some of the recommendations, to meet international standards.

"We have the blessings of our superiors, who approve everything," said Chimukoko.

Source - the herald