The Khumalo Hockey Stadium (KHS) is shrugging off the scaffolding and contractors to emerge, like a phoenix from the ashes, as one of the finest hockey facilities not just in Africa, but globally.
The Ministry of Public Works has pulled out all the stops to make sure that Zimbabwe will have a world-class facility to host the second African Olympic Hockey qualifier (AOQ) that starts on September 2.
The facility has been restored to its 1995 glory, and is a facility that not just Bulawayo, but Zimbabwe can be proud of.
Two new pitches have been laid, and the first use of the new fields occurred on Sunday August 21 when the National Men’s team training took place at the KHS.
The A pitch is a global standard water- based field, suitable for all international events. The carpet rests upon a 13mm elastic layer.
The B field is a sand-obscured pitch, and rests on a newly designed foam shock pad. If watered it would play to a similar standard as the A field, but water is not required for normal use. In addition to the full-size match pitch, there are two practice fields laid out across the width of the field. Due to the size of the pitch, these fields are more than adequate to allow for twice as many players to practice at any given time.
The two pitches will be tested and accredited by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) during the week prior to the AOQ.
In the refurbishment of the KHS there has been a focus on environmental issues. Water consumption on the turfs has been reduced to 25% of that previously required.
This has been achieved largely through the installation of a sand-obscured pitch on the B field, which requires no water when being used.
Water applied to the fields will be recycled through a system of drains, which will also capture rain water in large underground water tanks.
Boreholes will supply the gardens with water while reclaimed water facilities also exist. Over 50 indigenous trees have been planted within the facility, whilst drought resistant indigenous plants have been used to resuscitate the gardens.
The old turf will be reallocated and used for school sport development, and consequently won’t be discarded at this time, but is effectively recycled into another use.
The two new shock pads have a life in excess of 20 years and so will not require replacement for many years, therefore again contributing to the environment.
The Hockey Association of Zimbabwe and Matabeleland Hockey Board have arranged an FIH sanctioned youth development programme to coincide with the AOQ. This event kicked off on Wednesday August 24 and will run through the period of the AOQ.
This programme has seen selected children from across Bulawayo’s schools of ages 6 to 12 years being offered the chance to play on the new turf under the coaching of current national players.
In particular children from government schools who would not normally get this opportunity have been included in the programme.
Stephens is the chairman of the local organising committee for the olympic qualifiers