Ban on Zimbabwe’s football stadiums is a blessing in disguise, say football legends

This is a wake-up call


By Zimbabwe Digital News, ZBC and CAJ News


Zimbabwean football legend, Japhet Mparutsa says that the ban on Zimbabwe’s football Stadiums is a blessing in disguise – as it will give the authorities a wake-up call, and an opportunity to fix the problems affecting football and sport in Zimbabwe.

Writing on his Facebook page, the Japhet “Short Cat” Mparutsa Foundation, Mparutsa said: “Yes I am sad, as a Foundation we are sad. I spend nearly ten years with the National Team, and I had unforgettable journey.I never thought that a day would come when our National Team would be forced to play home games away from home. Why?…”

The legendary goalkeeper said that as that Zimbabwe’s football community had sat, watched and did not act when we saw stadiums falling apart. Gwanzura, Rufaro, Dzivarasekwa, National Sports Stadium, Cam and Motor and now Barbourfields cannot host our National team.

“I cry for our football and I know my departed comrades in the football journey are turning in their graves too. How did this happen?” Mparutsa wrote.

He added: “Some are blaming the Councils who run these facilities. Some are blaming the Government for not caring enough about Sport despite having a whole Ministry responsible for this sector. I think they are both to blame because they have failed to work together to ensure that our Stadiums are fit for purpose. There is too much politics so nothing moves.

“As a Foundation I think the time is now to correct this situation. Government should make an effort to restore the Nation’s pride, the NSS. Councils should work hard to restore all Stadiums and the Community grassroots pitches. We urge them to find partners who can provide funds so that the process moves fast.

“The requirements of CAF are not impossible to meet, with enough commitment, political will and strong leadership, these Stadiums and grassroots pitches/Community centres can be restored to their former glory.

“This ban is a blessing in disguise, it should make us act and act fast.
“As a Foundation we are prepared to play our part, we have always carried that Vision especially at grassroots and community level.

Multi-sectoral approach

A CROSS-SECTION of football stakeholders has called for a multi-sectoral approach to address the challenges bedevilling the country’s number one sport after Zimbabwean stadia were deemed unfit to host international matches.

In the wake of the Confederation of African Football’s correspondence banning the Zimbabwe Football Association from using local stadia to host international matches, disgruntled football stakeholders have called for a collective approach to deal with the challenges bedevilling the sport.

“This is a wake-up call for the country as a whole to move in swiftly and fix the grounds because surely it’s very sad to play home away from home. As a former footballer, I know how it feels to play in front of your home crowd it really carries the team when the going gets tough. It’s time everybody should step up and play their part,” said Thomas Sweswe, a former footballer.

“The development is really sad, we saw it coming because after the recommendations by CAF, nothing has been done so far and really we can’t blame them. The last time the local stadia were given a facelift was when Zimbabwe hosted the All Africa Games and since then nothing has been done to keep up with modern trends” noted Alois Bunjira another former footballer.

Sportscaster, Berry Manandi has come out guns blazing ultimately putting the blame on ZIFA for failing to take corrective measures in ensuring the country’s stadia meet the modern trends.
“Of course this has happened, but ultimately ZIFA as the custodians of football in Zimbabwe should have taken a step first, renovate the stadia and deal with the landlord later. – Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

Orlando Stadium

Meanwhile news coming from the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) headquarters are that they have earmarked Orlando Stadium after they were banned by CAF to host international matches.
Zimbabwe is scheduled to host Algeria on March 29 in a qualification campaign that has degenerated into a farce.

Xolisani Gwesela, the ZIFA spokesman and competitions manager, confirmed the football federation had engaged the South African Football Association (SAFA) for permission to use the 40 000-seater stadium located in Soweto, south of Johannesburg.

“We have started the process to get a stadium and a letter is being dispatched to the South Africa Football Association (SAFA),” Gwesela confirmed.
“The decision does not lie with us. SAFA will advise what is available and then all logistics will be worked out from there,” the ZIFA spokesperson added.

Gwesela ruled out the possibility of Zimbabwe fixing its ill-equipped stadia by March 15 when CAF inspectors could possibly return for further inspection.

“A media tribune for example cannot be fixed in two weeks. Fixing it would mean dismantling the structure but other issues like doping rooms and internet connectivity can be done. Gates need automation so really, it is unachievable in the short term,” he said.

CAF has banned the use of Zimbabwe’s main venue, the National Sports Stadium (NSS) in the capital Harare and the Barbourfields Stadium in the second city of Bulawayo.

The decision by CAF has itself been shrouded in controversy amid allegations of influence by the Algeria Football Federation.


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