A case for a new sports stadium

Source: A case for a new sports stadium | Herald (Opinion)

Philip Chiyangwa

Businessman and Zvimba South legislator Philip Chiyangwa is given to making outlandish statements.

However, what is indisputable is that he has a knack for seeing and seizing opportunities, where others don’t. It is also not disputed that today’s dreams are tomorrow’s reality.

Recently, Chiyangwa floated the idea of building a multi-purpose stadium in Harare South that would conform to the requirements of the world soccer governing body, FIFA.

His ability to complete this project is doubtful, given his failure on other projects.

What, however, has to be acknowledged is the fact that he has seen a national need that needs to be met and debate should centre around how that dream can be realised.

The relevant authorities need to engage him and brainstorm how his idea can be supported for the good of the country’s sports development.

For Zimbabwe in general and Harare South in particular, the facility would be a game-changer.

Harare South has no sporting facilities whatsoever.

Two decades ago, there used to be Harare South Golf Club, but its land use has since changed more to agricultural purposes.

However, in the short-term, the site of the golf club could become a residential area because of its proximity to Harare South urban, only being separated by Manyame River.

The announcement by Chiyangwa coincides with condemnation of the only major sporting facility in the country that could be relied upon to host international sporting events — the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium in Harare.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has raised concern about the continued suitability of the stadium for hosting major games.

But the painful reality is that most sports facilities are being used for activities other than sports.

Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, recently decried the state of the National Sports Stadium and the general abuse of sporting facilities, especially in the capital.

Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex and Magamba Hockey Stadium, next to the National Sports Stadium, stand out as prime examples of how facilities are not only being abused, but have diverted from their original mandate.

While the construction of the National Sports Stadium was funded by the Chinese, it was renovated several years later, again, with funding from the Chinese government.

This speaks to challenges faced in the maintenance of the facility and is an argument for a case of other players to be given the opportunity to shoulder the burden of constructing and running a facility that meets the requirements of both CAF and FIFA.

A multi-purpose sports stadium with or without Chiyangwa is, therefore, within the realms of possibilities, especially given FIFA’s  commitment to support such a facility in every African country.