BY HENRY MHARA
WORLD soccer governing body, Fifa has pledged to construct a modern football stadium in Chimanimani as part of efforts to help rehabilitate sporting facilities that were destroyed by Cyclone Idai.
The cyclone-induced floods left a trail of destruction in Chimanimani and other eastern parts of the country in March this year killing 344 people.
Fifa, through its foundation, this month dispatched two officials Segbe Pritchett and Catarina Ferreira, who toured the three countries including Mozambique and Malawi, which were affected by the disaster.
They arrived in Harare on Saturday after touring Malawi and Mozambique. Yesterday, they held a meeting with government and Zifa officials, after which they pledged to help build a stadium, some pitches, as
well as providing equipment.
“We have seen the extent of damage that has been done in the area and our vision is to try and support as much as possible the affected communities through Zifa,” Pritchett said.
“We had a meeting with Zifa and they gave us an idea of what kind of support that is needed to support the affected areas in Zimbabwe. We are looking at two kinds of support. The first one, which is quite
immediate, is equipment, so we will try to provide balls and kits for the children to be able to play. I don’t know how long it will take to get the equipment here because sometimes the shipment as well as
the customs, it might take weeks or months. But that is something that is definitely in the pipeline and will be happening as soon as possible.”
Established last year, the Fifa Foundation was created as an independent entity with objectives to help promote positive social change around the world and raise support for the recovery and reconstruction
of damaged or destroyed sports infrastructure worldwide.
“Then in the later stages obviously the idea will be to construct some pitches and stadiums in the area that has been devastated by the cyclone. We will construct one stadium, and maybe 15 pitches, open
areas that will be supporting the different communities. That would take a little bit longer, hopefully in a year we will be able to inaugurate an area that the community will be able to use as a very nice
ground to play football. We want to construct something better than what you had before, better quality, to be able to support the community and who knows, maybe discover an amazing footballer in the coming
years who will represent Zimbabwe in a future big football event,” Pritchett said.
Pritchett said they are yet to establish the budget for the project, but assured Zifa that they would keep their promise.
Zifa president Felton Kamambo, whose association in March also donated to the Cyclone Idai victims, said: “We approached Fifa for assistance so that they can help us rehabilitate the stadiums and pitches and also provide some equipment for schools in the affected communities. We made a special request to Fifa that they can assist us by building a state-of-the-art stadium.
“Provisionally, they have agreed to that, and they have also agreed to help rehabilitate some pitches at different schools in Manicaland so it was a very effective meeting. In terms of equipment, we will give them a breakdown of the quantities that we need. We want to give the equipment to every ward, to make sure that there if football being played at that level.”
The government has pledged to provide space for the construction of the stadium.