Zifa commends Government for stadia funding

27 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views
Zifa commends Government for stadia funding Gift Banda

The Sunday News

Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter

ZIFA have commended the Government for taking a proactive approach by setting aside funding for the revamping of the National Sports Stadium so that it meets international standards.

The Government has set aside $1,2 billion in the 2023 National Budget for rehabilitation of sporting facilities across the country.

Besides the National Sports Stadium, the funds set aside will also make sure that Bulawayo’s Khumalo Hockey Stadium which has been playing host to international matches as well as Harare’s Magamba Hockey Stadium get upgrades to match global standards.

The Government also wants to refurbish the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex, a facility that played host to the 1995 All-Africa Games. Arguably the most followed sport in Zimbabwe, football, is relieved with news that the Government is stepping up efforts to ensure that when the country is readmitted into international football, national teams will play home matches at the National Sports Stadium.

Acting Zifa president Gift Banda said upgrading of the National Sports Stadium means Zimbabweans will enjoy international football instead of seeking temporary shelter in neighbouring countries.

National Sports Stadium

“The emphasis on Zimbabwe’s return to international football has been that when we do so we go back having sorted our issues, having structures and infrastructure in place. We’ve also been working on mending relations with key stakeholders and Government is one such key stakeholder.

It is good to note that the Government is serious about getting the National Sports Stadium on required standards. This means when our suspension is lifted we’ll defend our pride right within our borders. Hopefully when we return to international football the National Sports Stadium will be ready for us to play international football competitively,” Banda said.

Presently, Zimbabwe has no facility sanctioned to play host to international football matches for the national teams as well as club competitions. Fifa banned the National Sports Stadium in October last year, saying the facility will only be cleared once outstanding issues noted in previous inspection reports have been addressed.

Among issues that the Fifa and Caf inspectors had noted are unavailability of bucket seats, failure to have modern electronic turnstiles and venue operations centre (VOC). The VOC serves as the command centre for security and safety operations.

The issue of stadiums has been haunting Zimbabwe for some time, and the move by the Government to upgrade the National Sports Stadium at a time when Zimbabwe is barred from participating in international competitions, gives hope that once the country is readmitted by Fifa it will play its games at home.

In August, Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Sport, Arts and Recreation that her ministry has engaged a South Africa company to spearhead the refurbishment of the National Sports Stadium.

Kirsty Coventry

The move by the Government to prioritise National Sports Stadium comes at a time when Harare City Council frustrated giant energy company, Sakunda Holdings from a deal that would have seen Rufaro Stadium undergoing a major facelift to meet international standards.

Sakunda had reportedly set aside at least US$4 million to revamp Rufaro Stadium, bringing major development to the iconic facility. Already, there are outcries from residents who have taken a swipe at Harare City Council for stifling development at Rufaro Stadium which would have seen a number of jobs being created during and after the completion of the project.

Zifa, the Premier Soccer League and the Zifa Northern Region are also on record crying foul about Rufaro Stadium development halt. — Follow on Twitter @ZililoR

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