Neglected sports facilities fall apart

Ndamu Sandu

MULTI-MILLION dollar sports facilities built for the 6th All Africa Games hosted by Zimbabwe in 1995 are lying derelict and neglected, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.


<
P>Government built two hockey stadia – Magamba and Khumalo, the Aquatic complex in Chitungwiza and a netball pitch in Mbare for the games.


The facilities, property of government but run by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), have never been given attention and have started to crumble.


When government built the Aquatic Complex, one of the best water-sports facilities on the continent, it said the complex would benefit the surrounding areas. It was also envisaged swimming clubs would be formed in Chitungwiza and the sport introduced in surrounding schools.


But nine years after the games, no swimming club has been formed and national swimming events are being held at Mount Pleasant complex.

The Chitungwiza complex reflects neglect by responsible authorities. There are three swimming pools – for international competition, practice and for children.


The children’s pool is empty while the two other pools are quarter full and the water has turned green and smells badly.


Pre-schools and a private college are now renting offices at the complex. A church organisation and a bar are also occupying sports administration offices at the complex.


SRC director general Elias Musangeya conceded this week that the facilities needed a major facelift.


“These facilities need refurbishment and we have made a request to government,” he told the Independent. “What must be borne in mind is that we are guided by policy of government.”


Magamba Hockey Stadium is in a pathetic state unsuitable for international matches. The astro-turf playing surface has started to peel off and hockey clubs have been forced to play on grass.


The story of the hockey stadia is confounding especially after the SRC refused to allow the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) to run the facilities as commercial entities.


The HAZ had in 1998 offered to run the stadia and generate revenue for the upkeep of the facilities. The issue degenerated into a huge row between the HAZ and SRC’s George Chisvo who argued against the arrangement.


As the hockey facilities continue to deteriorate, efforts to secure funds from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) hit a snag last year as there was no commitment from government. The money was meant to refurbish the two hockey stadia.


FIH officials were in the country in October to investigate the feasibility of a proposed scheme.


If government had made a financial commitment FIH would have availed a US$50 000 grant to repair the two hockey stadia.


Musangeya said when officials from FIH came, SRC was already in the middle of the financial year and could not get a supplementary grant from government.


HAZ has hosted international events such as the 6th All Africa Games in 1995, the Women’s World Cup qualifier in 1997, Junior Africa Cup of Nations (men and women) in 1997 and the African Cup of Nations (women) in 1998.


It has also hosted the Africa Cup of Nations (men) in 2000 and the Africa Cup of Club Champions in 1996 and 1999.


The condition of the facilities is likely to affect Zimbabwe’s preparation for the Olympic Games in September scheduled for Greece.


The state of Magamba stadium will scupper Zimbabwe’s preparations for the Junior Africa Cup of Nations in September.


The women’s tournament will be held in South Africa from September 18-26 while the men’s finals are scheduled to start in Egypt on the same date.

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