Rest Mutore, Sports Reporter
THE takeover of ownership of the Nationals Sports Stadium (NSS) by the Sports Ministry has been lauded by stakeholders who believe this will help in the maintenance of the facility.
The country’s biggest stadium was previously owned by Government through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
And the announcement by Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry that her office is now in charge is seen as a positive development amid stadium crisis in the country.
Zimbabwe stadia has been condemned to host international matches by CAF, forcing Zifa to seek refuge in South Africa for their 2021 Afcon qualifier against Algeria at the end of this month.
The ban has seen government reacting and unveiled funds to fast track the renovations at NSS and Barbourfields to try ensure that the Warriors host the Desert Foxes on home soil.
“Good news: It has been agreed that ownership + operations of the National Sports Stadium in Zimbabwe will be transferred to Ministry of Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation. We have the experience + passion to use this opportunity for Zimbabwe to become a sporting powerhouse,” announced Minister Coventry on Twitter yesterday.
NSS, built in 1987, had been neglected and no major renovations have been done in a decade – resulting in the facility deteriorating in standards.
This has partly been blamed to the ownership of the stadium as interested parties argue it should be owned by the ministry responsible for sports who understand the importance of maintaining the stadium.
The previous operators of NSS admitted last week that the facility was neglected for years and it now requires over RTGS$2m to be up to scratch.
In other countries like Zambia, the government owns major stadiums through the Ministry of Sports who then appoints committees to run the facilities.
And to ensure the facility is spruced up, Minster Coventry is expected to appoint custodians who will be answerable.
In South Africa, most stadiums are owned by municipalities who also employ independent bodies as custodians.
Minister Coventry also revealed – as reported by H-Metro Sport last week – that Zimbabwe’s home match against Algeria will not be played in the country arguing Zifa failed to convince the continent’s football governing body on the work currently underway on the stadiums.
This publication reported that Zifa has approached the City of Johannesburg for a stadium to use on March 29 and it emerged they secured Orlando Stadium after getting three quotations.
This is despite reports of a CAF inspection team visiting the country this week.