By Tadious Manyepo
Nearly five years after it turned into an eyesore due to neglect, one of the country’s famous football venues Gwanzura is to finally undergo a major facelift, with the Harare City Council committing over $700 000 for the refurbishment ahead of the 2019-2020 Premiership season.
The 5 000-seater venue is currently closed after continuously failing to meet the Premier Soccer League minimum requirements in the last few years.
Its closure has put pressure on Rufaro and the National Sports Stadium as the two venues that are being used by all the six Harare-based top-flight teams.
Dynamos and Harare City use Rufaro as their home ground, while CAPS United and Black Rhinos host their matches at the giant National Sports Stadium, with Herentals and Yadah alternating between the two venues.
With the new administration at PSL led by the recently elected chairman Farai Jere gearing to shift the season from the traditional March-November to August-May, issues about readiness, especially on the part of venues, has gathered momentum.
Only the National Sports Stadium used to have a decent drainage system, which at one stage withstood the normally incessant rains that characterise the December-February period.
But Harare City Council wants to address the challenges of venues between now and April next year in preparation of the possible shift in the season, starting with Gwanzura, which has been dysfunctional for almost half-a-decade.
The pitch at the venue is in an unusable state, not to mention the eyesore of the ablution facilities, broken down pre-cast wall and cracking terraces.
The municipality has since engaged a borehole contractor who is due to sink two boreholes before the refurbishment work starts in the next few weeks.
Harare City Council corporate communications manager Michael Chideme confirmed the development.
“The Harare City Council will in the coming weeks start the full-scale refurbishment of one of our sporting facilities, Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield.
“The council has set aside $700 000 for the work. The first aspect is to address the issue of water supply to which the city council has already made payment for borehole drilling.
“The contractor engaged for the turf attendance will be on the ground as soon as the installation of the borehole is completed.
“The contractor for the turf will also address drainage issues,” Chideme said.
The perimeter wall as well as changing rooms will also be attended to.
Chideme said bucket seats will also be put across the stadium, making Gwanzura the first facility to have those in its entirety in the country.
However, the placement of the bucket seats will be done in phases, but will be completed by July next year, about three months after the stadium re-open its doors.
“There is also this issue of bucket seats for the stadium. We will place them across the stadium, although we will have to do that in phases. All in all, the stadium will be ready by April 2019,” Chideme said.
Chideme said the city fathers would also be working on improving drainage systems for other stadiums in preparation for the season change.
The switch in calendar comes as the Confederation of African Football has shifted the season for their competitions — the African Cup of Nations, Champions League and Confederation Cup which will be following the August-May timetable.
Both the Champions League and the Confederation Cup will start this December instead of January next year, while the 2019 Nations Cup will be the first to be played in June as CAF breaks with the January-February tradition. The Herald.