The government is moving with earnest to spruce up the National Sports Stadium (NSS) ahead of Fifa World Cup qualifiers after sending officials and experts to Spain on a learning expedition.
This week, world governing body Fifa removed Zimbabwe from international isolation by lifting a ban which had been in place for about a year and half.
Following the lifting of the suspension, government urgently needs to renovate the National Sports Stadium to meet Fifa and Caf requirements for it to host international matches. Among other pressing matters, Fifa have demanded that bucket seats be installed at NSS where changing rooms and the B Arena also need sprucing up.
A group comprising Eugene Chidhakwa, a director in the sports ministry, Evelyn Mutsvangwa from the same ministry, Lovemore Muzhanye, a quantity surveyor in the Local Government ministry, Engineer Nicholas Mutangu a deputy director in the same ministry as well as Chenjerai Bwerinofa, an architect, has since left the country for Spain.
Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) director Sebastian Garikai and Nqobile Magwizi, Sakunda Holdings project co-ordinator, are also part of the crew which has so far visited the Real Betis facilities and are expected to tour Barcelona’s Nou Camp and Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu.
They will also travel to Germany where they intend to tour the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich after the weekend. The officials are looking to learn how they can uplift the NSS, particularly how they can install bucket seats and redo the changing rooms.
Chidhakwa said: “The main reason for this visit is for us to look at Olympic Parks and stadia and learn from the best how we will be able to renovate our various stadia in Zimbabwe and learn how we can take sport into a viable business entity.
“We have seen the Real Betis stadium and their high Performance Centre. They are in the process of expanding their stadium and we have realised that the way they have erected their bucket seats is exactly the way we would love to have at our National sports Stadium.
“We have had various meetings with officials here who have given us some heads up, recommendations and suggestions on how we should be able to refurbish our stadia.”
Magwizi, representing Sakunda, who are government partners, said they hope to come and put into practice what they would have learnt on this tour.
“It’s been an eye opening experience. Some of these facilities here speak to the aspirations have as Zimbabwe to have such facilities which can address some glaring gaps that we have.
“From Sakunda’s perspective it’s always been our desire to pour resources to corporate social development projects.
“We have seen how this can work and working with the ministry of sport, we are very positive that as we get back to Zimbabwe, we will be able to put the learning experience into good examples on the ground to benefit the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.