Our world-class sports facilities have gone to ruin: Coventry

"What a waste," Coventry mused as she toured Magamba Hockey stadium. "World class facilities in Zimbabwe that have gone to ruin..."

THE Minister of Youth, Arts, Sport and Culture Kirsty Coventry has bemoaned how Zimbabwe’s sporting facilities which she said were world-class in the 1990s have now gone to ruin.

“What a waste,” Coventry mused as she toured Magamba Hockey stadium. “World class facilities in Zimbabwe that have gone to ruin.

“Our National Sports Stadium has been condemned by FIFA and by CAF. These are only pictures from Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex and Magamba hockey stadium but it’s the same story throughout our country.”

Coventry, a former Olympic champion who placed Zimbabwe on the swimming map in the 2000s, recalled how she used the facilities in the late 1990s when they were in good shape.

Minister Coventry tours Magamba Hockey Stadium in Harare

“I was a kid who volunteered during the 1995 All Africa Games in Harare and competed in this pool. To think that we could have had world class swimmers from Chitungwiza… Would have been amazing. But it is still possible if we act now!”

Coventry said it was high time Zimbabwe changed this and “bring back our national pride.”

In December, Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) said it was engaging Government, who own the National Sports Stadium in Harare, to renovate the giant sports facility which was banned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after being declared substandard.

ZIFA had invited CAF to inspect Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane with a view to enable Premier Soccer League championship side FC Platinum to play their CAF Champions League home games in the Midlands town, but CAF also ruled Mandava substandard.

Writing in a newspaper column recently, respected sports journalist Michael Kariati warned that Zimbabwe could end up playing its home matches in neighbouring countries if it failed to improve stadia standards to morden levels.

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Said Kariati: “The effects of the stadia international ban does not hit football alone but Zimbabwe as a nation. How would the ministry and the city authorities feel when — one day — their own national team is forced to play in a foreign land because they could not do just a simple thing — of watering the lawn and later on cutting the grass to required levels?

“What has happened to the National Sports Stadium and Rufaro Stadium is just a warning which the authorities should take seriously by addressing the concern raised as a matter of urgency.

“It would be cruel, one day, to see the Warriors using the Heroes Stadium in Zambia or the Kamuzu Stadium in Malawi, as their home ground, when there is the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

“This might not be immediate — but at the rate things are going and Zimbabwe’s well documented slowness in addressing issues — it could, one day happen. — We have already been warned.”

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