RUFARO STADIUM SAGA SAD
RUFARO Stadium is an eyesore.
Years of being neglected by the men and women, who were supposed to play the leading role in its maintenance, has turned the spiritual home of our football into an eyesore.
It’s hard to believe, right now, that this used to be our biggest football stadium which, over the years, has been the arena where priceless memories were created.
It’s where the Warriors came of age, in 1984, when they won their first silverware in international football, by capturing the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup, with a 2-0 win over Kenya.
It’s a place which Dynamos used to call home, back in the days when the Glamour Boys were the dominant force in local football, the arena where the likes of George Shaya and Moses Chunga used to express themselves.
Ahead of the ’95 All-Africa Games, the Government poured substantial investment in the renovation of Rufaro Stadium, which was one of the main venues for the football tournament.
This saw the installation of two stands on the northern and southern ends and improvement in the ablution facilities at the stadium.
A FIFA investment resulted in an artificial surface being laid at Rufaro before it was removed amid an outcry over the way it had deteriorated because of poor maintenance.
In the last seven years, we have seen successive leaders at the City of Harare promising to renovate Rufaro but, now and again, these have turned into false promises.
Today, just as has been the case in the past few years, not even the domestic Premiership matches are being played at Rufaro because, according to the PSL, the stadium isn’t in a condition to host the topflight matches.
The irony of it all is that even the City of Harare’s own football club, Harare City, were forced to play their home matches at the National Sports Stadium because the city fathers have failed to provide the capital with a decent stadium.
All their three stadiums Rufaro, Gwanzura and Dzivaresekwa - are in a very bad state.
Amid all this gloom, hopes were raised that Rufaro could be turned into a modern stadium when energy giants Sakunda Holdings tabled a multi-million dollar proposal to transform the facility.
To show they were serious, they even sent a delegation from the Council on an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa where they exchanged notes with their counterparts there who are taking care of the FNB and Moses Mabhida Stadiums.
The whole idea was to familiarise them with modern stadiums, for them to appreciate that a lot of work needed to be done in the transformation of Rufaro from the eyesore it is today into a modern facility.
We are therefore surprised that Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume somehow feels that this represents a bad investment for a capital which, with all due respect, cannot even provide water for its residents.
It’s sad that political interests have been allowed to destroy a deal which would have been a game-changer for the city and a stadium which means the world to its football community.