Ricky Zililo and Allen Khumalo, Sports Reporters
THE Sports and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane has approached the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing in a bid to have the latter avail the National Sports Stadium for Premiership games.
The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, owners of the National Sports Stadium advised PSL that they will not be able to accommodate the weekend games as well as next week’s because of two major events.
The events are Pastor Chris of Christ Embassy’s crusade and the Confederation of School Sports Associations of Southern Africa (Cossasa) Athletics Championships.
Speaking to journalists at a press briefing yesterday held at ZITF, Hlongwane said as the Sports and Recreation Ministry they are against the move to deny PSL the use of the facility.
“The PSL schedule might be disrupted as a result of the decision to rent out the National Sports Stadium to a church so we need to address this problem. As the Ministry of Sports and Recreation and on behalf of the whole sports movement, we abhor the seeding away of space that belongs to sport and recreation to churches especially in cases where it happens at the expense of sport and recreation activities as is the case now. The PSL teams, who are the elite of football in our country, are being disrupted in terms of their schedule. The only stadium at their disposal at the moment in Harare has been hired out to a church event,” said Hlongwane.
“We know that some of these facilities in certain instances when sports activities are not happening will be hired out for various other activities as a way of raising income in order to maintain the facilities. However, this should not happen at the expense of football activities or any sport activity,” Hlongwane said.
He said his ministry will not tolerate having sports facilities being rented out to activities that are not sport related if such activities disrupt sport.
“We therefore want to urge those officials within the Local Government Ministry to understand their role, take it seriously and understand that the Government did invest in constructing these infrastructure to benefit sport. We would not tolerate any continued disruption of our schedule on account of space being seeded out to other activities that are not sport related. That facility is really to be at the service of the sector so we take that very seriously and we are very unhappy with this development,” Hlongwane said.
He said so far his ministry has engaged with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing over the matter and they are still waiting for a response.
Five Premiership teams, Dynamos, Caps United, Harare City, Black Rhinos and Yadah FC use the National Sports Stadium as Rufaro Stadium is closed for renovations.
As a result of unavailability of the National Sports Stadium, the league was forced to cancel broadcasting this weekend matches in Harare.
The league also moved tomorrow’s Yadah FC and Dynamos match to Morris Depot. The other games that will also be played at Morris Depot, a police owned facility are Monday’s Harare City/ZPC Kariba encounter as well as Tuesday’s Black rhinos/FC Platinum match.
The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has allowed the league to host today’s match between the champions Caps United and Chapungu.
Kennedy Ndebele, the league’s chief executive officer said: “We managed to secure the National Sports Stadium for today’s game between Caps United and Chapungu after the intervention of the Sports Minister as well as the Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda. We appreciate the support we got from them.
“As a league we are grateful to the Zimbabwe Republic Police who came in to save the situation by allowing us to use Morris Depot for the other PSL games that had been scheduled for the National Sports Stadium,” Ndebele said.
PSL Match Day Six Fixtures
Today: Bulawayo City v Triangle United (Barbourfields), Caps United v Chapungu (National Sports Stadium)
Tomorrow: Yadah FC v Dynamos (Morris Depot), Shabanie Mine v Tsholotsho FC (Maglas), Hwange v Chicken Inn (Colliery), Highlanders v Ngezi Platinum (Barbourfields)
Monday: How Mine v Bantu Rovers (Luveve), Harare City v ZPC Kariba (Morris Depot)
Tuesday: Black Rhinos v FC Platinum (Morris Depot Stadium)