Decade later: Going round in circles

Sports Panorama: Enock Muchinjo

FOR THOSE of us privileged to have been close to the action, the sights and sounds of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa are indelible memories never to be forgotten.

The carnival atmosphere in the stands, the hustle and bustle of the press boxes, the joyous vibes in the bars and streets, all combined to deliver one big party that reverberated for weeks through the Rainbow Nation.

Above all, even more impressive were South Africa’s sound infrastructure and the country’s organisational skills — quite a show our neighbours put, right before the eyes of the whole world.

Three years later when the Africa Cup of Nations was switched to being held on odd-numbered years, the South Africans, after the success of the 2010 World Cup, were the safest choice to stage that 2013 Afcon tournament on such short notice.

For the South Africans — who did not hesitate to raise their hands up to host—the 2013 Afcon finals presented a wonderful opportunity to put their World Cup machinery to good use in a much smaller tournament, which, of course, they made light work of.

Such progress, for a nation, is really pleasing to see. It speaks of a nation that is forward-thinking, always on the front-foot and ever-prepared to test and upgrade its resources whenever necessary.

Take Egypt, for example.

Those that were there for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, should they return 13 years later for the forthcoming 2019 edition in June and July, will be met with quite a few progressive changes.

At least three stadiums used in 2006 have been replaced, and the total number of venues has been increased by one, from six to seven.Compare and contrast with our own situation here in Zimbabwe. Exactly a decade after we hosted the Cosafa Cup, a less-fancied tournament for our region of the continent, Zimbabwe has offered to stage the 2019 edition of the competition.

Ten years later, absolutely nothing has changed, in terms of stadiums development, since Zimbabwe last hosted this event in 2009.

No one, a decade later, can tell the nation with a straight face of any benefits or legacy obtained from the 2009 tournament.

Yet we want, again, to gobble up a significant chunk of public funds on a tournament whose benefits no one can clearly outline. Worse, this is a country right now with more pressing matters to attend to.

South Africa, who hosted the last two editions of the Cosafa, were not even bothered with taking the tournament to the bigger cities of the country. Rustenburg capably did the job alone in 2017, as so did Polokwane in 2018.

Come May this year, Rufaro and Barbourfields stadiums in Harare and Bulawayo — the two host venues in 2009 — will be in the mix again. As of the National Sports Stadium, it may not be needed, but I am not holding my breath. Now, these are the premium football facilities in the country, yet 10 years later, the Cosafa visitors will find them as outmoded and inferior as they were when they were last here in 2009.

What is it that we are so desperate to show off? Are we not ashamed?