Zimbabwe has failed to acquire the required bucket seats for its main football stadia owing to the coronavirus-induced lockdown restrictions, but Sports minister Kirsty Coventry is optimistic Caf will understand the situation ahead of the next stadia inspection next month.
BY Kevin Mapasure
Coventry yesterday toured the National Sports Stadium to assess progress on the refurbishments that are being carried out in a bid to meet Caf minimum requirements on facilities that will host continental competitions as well as Fifa events, after all local stadia were deemed unfit to host international matches.
She observed that a lot of progress has been made at the stadium, but indicated that the installation of bucket seats will not be addressed in time for the next inspection.
Coventry revealed that the government could not procure the bucket seats because of the restrictions on movement while many businesses had been shut across the world.
She, however, said that by the next inspection date, they will have ordered bucket seats for three stadia including the National Sports Stadium, Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo and Sakubva in Mutare.
“We are working on the procurement of the bucket seats. What we have decided is that for bucket seats, we will do one big procurement for all the stadiums because it’s cost effective that way,” she said.
“Because of the COVID-19, there has been a lot backups in China where we can get seats that are cost effective. It has been explained to Zifa, Caf and Fifa and my understanding is that they understand us on it. But when the inspection is done, the procurement would have been done so that the seats will be here in time for the games. The other issue is the electronic ticketing system. We also need to procure the equipment and that has also been affected by the COVID-19. Besides those two aspects, everything else will be in place by the time for the next inspection.”
She said that the team working on Barbourfields had been considering a number of designs for bucket seats that do not eat up much space.
“We are trying to see the best design for the bucket seats and we need designs that fit in the facilities that we have so that we do not lose too much space. We still need the stadiums to accommodate as many people as possible.
“It won’t be fair for Zimbabwe that a 30 000-seater stadium will be reduced to just 10 000 because of the bucket seats. That’s something that the engineers are looking at particularly for Barbourfields which was built a long time ago.”
The Olympian said she was pleased with the general progress at the stadium where among other new developments – a well-equipped Press room, medical room and anti-doping rooms have been set up.
“The team has been working very hard. It is nice to see progress has been made. There are a few minor adjustments that I have asked the team to look into.”
The pitch, which has been a major cause of concern for Caf, is looking well-manicured and much better with shorter and greener grass.
“The pitch is great. There has been a huge change. What we would like to see in the next 12 months will be to redo the pitch and get an entirely new pitch if we can. We would like to thank Royal Harare who came in with their expertise and equipment.
They came up and helped another sport and we would like to say a big thank you. The colour of the pitch and the vibrancy of the pitch is good looking.”