Death of a sta­dium

Van­dals de­stroy­ing fa­cil­ity which drew ben­e­fit from the 2010 le­gacy

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - SIMTEMBILE MGIDI

THE Dumpy Adams Sports Grounds in Vic­to­ria Park in Ko­mani, a ben­e­fi­ciary of the Fifa 2010 Soc­cer Le­gacy project, is be­ing van­dalised and ne­glected, less than 10 years af­ter be­ing ren­o­vated.

The once-glo­ri­ous sports fa­cil­ity, which falls un­der the Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (EMLM) and which was named af­ter the late Ko­mani sport­ing hero Dumpy Adams, is show­ing signs of a steady de­cline.

The pool is stand­ing empty, basins at one of the two ablu­tion fa­cil­ity sites have been bro­ken off the walls and the win­dows have been bro­ken. The other ablu­tion fa­cil­ity has a se­cu­rity gate and seems to be in good re­pair.

Ez­i­be­leni South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) zone chair­man Sandile Mata said the grounds started to de­te­ri­o­rate af­ter a for­mer mu­nic­i­pal care­taker, Con­rad Botha, re­tired.

“I was the pres­i­dent of the Queen­stown Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion in 1995. In 1996, the sta­dium was van­dalised and by 1997, it de­te­ri­o­rated to its worst state. It was meant for the [res­i­dents of the] Vic­to­ria Park, Aloe Vale and New Rest (VAN) area, but since we are part of non-racial sport, we also used it al­though we were not from the area.”

He said Botha and a for­mer man­ager of the then mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s com­mu­nity ser­vices, Hen­nie Stroebel, had been strict about the use of the fa­cil­i­ties and kept them in a good state.

Be­tween 2009 and 2010, Dumpy Adams was ren­o­vated un­der for­mer Lukhanji ex­ec­u­tive mayor Mnce­disi Nontsele.

“Nontsele was re­spon­si­ble for the ren­o­va­tions. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity put up pal­isade fences, the Fifa 2010 Soc­cer Le­gacy ar­ti­fi­cial turf was go­ing to Sterk­spruit and we ar­gued for it to come to Ko­mani, and with our meet­ings with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity con­cern­ing the ren­o­va­tions, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity promised to pay for ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing main­tain­ing the grounds.”

At the same time, it was de­cided that the Mlungisi Sta­dium be used as a rugby field and Dumpy Adams as a soc­cer field. Free ac­cess to the fields started lead­ing to the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the Dumpy Adams Sta­dium from 2015, he said.

Mata at­trib­uted this to a lack of pride from the clubs who were sup­posed to en­sure that the fa­cil­i­ties were used only for matches, not for train­ing, and a lack of main­te­nance by the cur­rent Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Mata said he was ashamed of what was hap­pen­ing at the sta­dium.

Aubrey Am­braal, who is a for­mer Progress Rugby Club pres­i­dent, re­it­er­ated the re­spect for Botha who used to look af­ter the grounds.

“Back then we could use the show­ers be­cause they still worked. He was strict and if he told you to leave at a spe­cific time, you had to go. There were three fields – the mid­dle one was for matches, the left was at times for soc­cer and the far-right field was for rugby.”

Ac­cess to the swim­ming pool was dif­fi­cult as it was fenced and teams showed re­spect for the fields.

Mn­i­nawe Dubase, who is ac­tive in lo­cal soc­cer cir­cles, said the state of Dumpy Adams was of great concern.

The toi­lets were in a state of dis­re­pair and the ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity pro­vided at the site did not seem to be hav­ing the re­quired ef­fect.

Dubase also claimed com­mu­nity ser­vice depart­ment head Ronel van Zyl was al­low­ing teams free ac­cess to prac­tise on the fields in­stead of re­strict­ing us­age to matches and tour­na­ments.

He said he had sent sev­eral let­ters to Van Zyl com­plain­ing about the state of the sta­dium, but to no avail and with­out a re­sponse.

He said he also blamed the Dumpy Adams com­mit­tee who had not in­ter­vened in the mat­ter un­til he joined the com­mit­tee. “We are only talk­ing about it now.” Dubase said he was wor­ried that the Fifa 2010 le­gacy was be­ing de­stroyed. The astro turf had started to lift and the loss of the fa­cil­ity would mean less chil­dren play­ing sport and in­stead re­sort­ing to drugs, al­co­hol and crime.

Van Zyl re­ferred The Rep to the EMLM com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment for com­ment.

EMLM spokesman Gcobani Msind­wana said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was the owner of ameni­ties in its area of ju­ris­dic­tion “and we have an obli­ga­tion to main­tain and make sure that they are in good con­di­tion for the en­joy­ment of our com­mu­ni­ties”.

The Dumpy Adams Sta­dium was no ex­cep­tion, but prob­lems with van­dals were be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced. “As we re­pair, it is dam­aged again.” Msind­wana said there was only one guard on site to look af­ter the vast sta­dium and the re­lated bud­get was lim­ited.

“We are try­ing to re­vive a man­age­ment com­mit­tee and im­ple­ment our main­te­nance plan for the sta­dium.”

The sta­dium was only meant for matches and tour­neys with the pitch an ar­ti­fi­cial turf which could not take strain from con­stant use.

“Book­ings are done only by our com­mu­nity ser­vice depart­ment and we hire the sta­dium on a first-come first-served ba­sis only for matches and tour­na­ments and not for prac­tices. Our area of op­er­a­tions has been ex­tended to other ar­eas, such as the for­mer Tsol­wana and for­mer Inkwanca, and there­fore our bud­get is not enough, but we are lob­by­ing for more fund­ing,” Msind­wana said.

Only one of the two ablu­tion blocks had an alarm, but the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was try­ing to in­stall an alarm at the sec­ond.

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

ALL THAT RE­MAINS: A passer-by stands at the side of the once-pop­u­lar Dumpy Adams swim­ming pool

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