The curse of Sakubva Stadium
MUTARE City Rovers brought smiles on the faces of football fans in the eastern border city when they won promotion into the domestic Premiership, but the euphoria might soon turn into despair when the powers that be in top-flight league administration deem the venue unfit to host league matches owing to its derelict state.
Sakubva Stadium has been banned from hosting Premiership football matches on a number of occasions before, with teams such as the now defunct Eastern Lions, Highway FC and Buffaloes being ordered to find alternative venues for their league assignment.
Ironically, Mutare City Rovers are owned by Mutare City Council - the custodians of the 15 000-seater football match venue.
Hopes were high that the local authority would move in with speed to renovate the sports field since their own team gained promotion into the more competitive league.
That Mutare Town Clerk Joshua Maligwa, pledged to renovate all sporting facilities around the city during a tour by the then Minister of Sports, Makhosini Hlongwane early this year only served to raise expectations of a major facelift for Sakubva Stadium.
“Minister, I can assure you that it is not going to business as usual as far as sport is concerned at Mutare City Council. We are going to sit down and ensure that we renovate most of these facilities so that they can make a meaningful contribution to the development of sports in the city and the province at large,” said Maligwa during Hlongwane’s tour of sports facilities in Mutare.
With only three months left before the start of the 2018, Sakubva Stadium still lies in a derelict state.
Parts of its precast wall have been brought down, thereby giving easy access to lovebirds from the nearby high-density suburb a spacious outdoor picnic venue.
Its changing rooms, both for the home and visiting teams, apart from being too small for a comfortable match half-time rest, are still substandard and not ideal for a stadium in the county’s fourth largest city.
The ablution facilities at Sakubva Stadium are an eyesore.
Turnstiles have broken iron bars that give a torrid time to both those entering the stadium to watch matches as well as those manning the gates.
The lighting system at Sakubva Stadium, if ever there is any, is poor.
A bumpy playing filed with a poor drainage system has become a normality, no wonder visiting teams find it extremely difficult to play a fine passing game each time they play at Sakubva Stadium.
Apart from the iron sheets shed, there is really nothing important about the so-called Very Important Persons (VIP) enclosure at Sakubva Stadium.
The media corner at Sakubva Stadium, which gives no security and internet access to sports journalists, is at best a joke and at worst a mockery for a serious football-loving city in the 21st century.
Mutare City Council spokesperson Spren Mutiwi said: “We have a workplan that is expected to kick off mostly likely early January to renovate Sakubva Stadium to meet the expected standards. We do not want the Manicaland community to be deprived of top-flight league action and the council is aware of the expectations. Serious work will soon be rolled out. Focus is on establishing a new precast wall, upgrade the changing rooms and ensure that the pitch meets the set standards.
“It is a project which requires funding, but we are prepared to tackle the issue head-on before the soccer season kicks off. We are confident that before the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League roars into life, a new-look Sakubva Stadium will be ready for use.”
Mutare City Rovers spokesperson Clayton Masekesa said the club had assurance from the local authority that the facility would be refurbished in time for the 2018 Premiership season.
“We are confident that the stadium will be allowed to host Premiership matches. I might not be at liberty to comment on the actual works that the local authority will soon be undertaking to renovate the stadium since these are council matters but as a club we have assurance from the local authority that the facility would be refurbished in time for the 2018 Premiership season,” said Masekesa.
Sakubva Stadium changing rooms are an eyesore