Seven months ago, the playing surface at Wadzanai Stadium in Shamva was just a bare sandy pitch, the ones commonly used for social football in the country.
But, thanks to an ambitious project to renovate the stadium by the leadership of ZIFA Northern Region Division One newboys Simba Bhora, everything looks different.
The bare sandy pitch has been replaced by a lush green surface while work is about to start in erecting some stands at the stadium.
A new security wall is being erected around the stadium.
What makes this project even more impressive is that it’s a community-driven initiative in which scores of men and women, who call the little mining town of Shamva home, have been volunteering, spending countless hours, to try and give their stadium a facelift.
Of course, the owners of Simba Bhora, formerly Simba Stars, who last year won the right to play in Division One League this season, have been providing the finances for the project.
They started by drilling a borehole, which has been used to provide an endless supply of water, and then flattened and relaid the playing surface.
On Saturday, the club’s officials, led by team director, Simba “Buju’’ Ndoro, were in Shamva for their latest inspection of the progress being made in renovating the stadium.
They invited former Premier Soccer League fixture secretary, Beadle Musa Gwasira, who in March donated 100 bags of cement towards the renovation of Barbourfields.
He also donated a refrigerator for use in the match officials’ room at Barbourfields.
“It’s refreshing to note what we can do, in terms of changing the faces of our communities, if we come together and work as a united family,’’ Gwasira said.
“This project in Shamva is all about a community which said that we want something better for ourselves, they didn’t go begging but they just used their resources and the results have been impressive so far.
“This should be used a model, for the other communities in this country, to show that the power to make a difference to the things that matter to us, like our stadiums, is really in our hands.
“When Simba and his guys decided to renovate their community’s stadium, many people dismissed it as an ambitious project but, through their determination, and support from the people who live in this town, they are making some giant strides.
“This game means so much to many of us and, at a time when some of our best stadiums have been condemned, largely because we didn’t maintain them as well as we should, it feels good to see that some people are committed to making a difference and changing the face of the stadium in their community.
“Such people deserve all the support they can get.’’
Simba Bhora director, Ndoro, said there was still a lot of work to be done.
“We have made some progress and the community has been very supportive but there is still a lot of work to be done,’’ he said.
“There is so much we can do if we come together.
“We felt that, now that we are in Division One, we should have a stadium that we are all proud of and that is why we decided to start renovating our home ground.
“We have seen a number of clubs being forced to play away from their home, because of the poor conditions of their home grounds, and we felt it’s not fair that the people of Shamva, who have supported our club from day one, should be denied the chance to watch their team play at home.
“Like we have said in the past, the stadium is our identity, our home, and we want a facility that suits our vision because we have some big dreams, it’s not about just playing in Division One but winning the league and getting into the Premier League.’’
It’s something Ndoro tried, 11 years ago, and came close to achieving with the team when it was still called Simba Stars before it assumed a new identity, Simba Bhora.
“We tried to do that about 10 years ago and came very close and we learnt our lessons and we are sure that we can do it this time around although we know it won’t be easy because we have to respect our opponents,” he said.
“The people of our province love football, when we play at home there is always a full house and we have fans coming from Madziva, Bindura and even Mount Darwin to come and support us.
“There is a sense of ownership, by the community, of the team and you hear them shout ‘Chinhu Chedu,’ meaning it belongs to us and we are one family, really.”
Ndoro grew up in Shamva and has always been desperate to make a change for his community and believes a revamped stadium, and a competitive football club, could do just that. The Herald