AS Zimbabwe celebrates 39 years of Independence, the country’s sporting community needs to draw attention to the need for improvements in infrastructure, with most facilities in urgent need of a facelift.
These include those built for the All-Africa Games hosted in this country in 1995 such as Magamba Hockey Stadium in Harare as well as the Mbare Netball Complex and Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex.
The Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex has become synonymous with music shows and church events.
The swimming pool at the complex has become a white elephant.
In Mbare, there used to be the No.7 Ground, just opposite the Stodart Hall, which had an excellent track and field.
But this facility is now in a sorry state and home to vagrants.
It is the same story with the City Sports Centre that was designed to cater for a number of sporting codes as it has become familiar with hosting non-sporting events.
The poor sporting facilities have made it difficult for the country to host major international competitions.
Sports Commission corporate communications officer Tirivashe Nheweyembwa said the country was missing out on several opportunities that come with hosting major competitions due to lack of infrastructure.
“The challenge with our facilities, including the Government-owned, is the issue of maintenance of those facilities,” he said.
“The moment you build those facilities, if there is no maintenance budget, generally, you run into problems.
“The other issue is that while we got some facilities owned by local authorities, they have also been lagging behind in terms of maintenance of those facilities.
“The other challenge, because of our failure to maintain those facilities, we can’t host international events because if you are to do that, it means the sporting facilities must meet the required standards.
“And by failing to host, it means as a nation we are losing out in terms of potential revenue. I think, going forward, our appeal to the councils and whoever owns facilities is to make sure those facilities are well-maintained.”
Nheweyembwa challenged communities to guard against vandalism when it comes to the sport and recreation facilities in their areas. There was an outcry recently as the Premier Soccer League kicked off amid a crisis related to stadiums.
Some of the facilities, including Ascot, Trojan, Vengere, Sakubva, Gwanzura and Dzivarasekwa, were condemned.
Six Harare clubs now share Rufaro.
Newboys Mushowani have also been forced to have their home games in Harare.
Manica Diamonds were ordered to find alternative options and Chapungu now have to travel to Mandava after Ascot failed to meet the required standards.