Zimbabwe’s National Sports Stadium has undergone an impressive facelift as the country takes advantage of the ongoing suspension of football activities.
The country’s stadiums were all barred from hosting international matches after failing to meet CAF standards, a move that would have forced the Warriors to host their home Africa Cup of Nations tie against Algeria last month outside the country.
However, the game was called off as the world grapples with the outbreak of Covid-19.
Reports are that the facility’s battered pitch has been transformed into a fresh and green surface, a new media centre has been erected while renovations of the dressing rooms have reached an advanced stage.
According to The Herald, the government, which is bankrolling the exercise, has received reports that work on most of the targeted areas is now between 70 percent and 100 percent complete.
Sport Minister Kirsty Coventry toured the stadium on Wednesday and said this was an opportunity to upgrade the country’s facilities and ensure they meet CAF and FIFA standards.
“The pitch is great, the before and after pictures I’m seeing, there has been a huge change,” said the former Olympic swimmer and world record holder.
Bucket seats remain a sticky issue and are unlikely to be installed by July 15. Coventry, the most decorated Olympian from Africa, explained that the procurement of bucket seats could be a challenge now because of the complications related to Covid-19, which has disrupted how imported material is transported from one country to another.
However, she said the process would be done, since this was a requirement, and there would be feasibility studies undertaken to ensure they get the best seats, which suit the country’s stadiums, while engineers will also have to check how such a makeover will affect the sitting capacity at Barbourfields Stadium in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo.
The procurement of electronic turnstiles could also be affected by the challenges related to getting equipment from foreign countries.
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By Mthokozisi Dube