DeMbare itching to return ‘home’

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Dynamos FC players
Dynamos FC players

BY HENRY MHARA
THE Dynamos camp is buzzing at the prospect of returning to Rufaro Stadium, its favourite hunting ground.

Harare City Council (HCC) has agreed to lease the stadium to DeMbare’s sponsors Sakunda Holdings which will see the energy giant refurbish the facility into a world class venue.

The development has been well-received by players and members of the technical team.

Speaking at a Press conference in Harare yesterday ahead of their home league match against Tenax set for the National Sports Stadium (NSS), captain Patson Jaure, said the players cannot wait to return “home”.

He said they have always enjoyed playing at the Mbare venue over the years, and positive results are almost guaranteed when they play there.

“When we won the league title in four consecutive years, we were using Rufaro Stadium,” said Jaure who was part of the Dynamos’ 2011 squad that dominated the local landscape.

“That should tell you a lot about how we perform at Rufaro. At Rufaro, we rarely lose a match, we force things and try to get a result by all means. The stadium’s proximity to most residential suburbs in Harare also means we are guaranteed huge crowds in all our matches. I’m hoping the relevant authorities who are engaged in the discussions will come to a good conclusion. It is our hope that we return to our home very soon. We are even prepared to play our Sunday match there if possible,” he added.

Rufaro Stadium last hosted football matches during the 2019 league season before it was red-flagged by the Zifa first instance board in 2020.

The stadium has since become an eyesore after renovations by the city council were stopped midway.

According to a letter by acting town clerk Phakamile Moyo to Sakunda Holdings and council has agreed to award a long lease to the energy giant for refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium to Fifa standards.

Sakunda Holdings says its vision is to drive community development in Mbare, including refurbishing the stadium for use by Dynamos and other local football clubs.

Sakunda is also looking to rehabilitate Belgravia Sports Club for use by the Harare giants for training purposes as part of the deal.

Dynamos currently use Prince Edward High School grounds for training sessions.

“Rufaro is our home, and if you are at home you have all the confidence,” Dynamos assistant coach Gift Muzadzi said.

The dreadlocked former goalkeeper said it’s a pity that Rufaro Stadium had been neglected.

“All the club’s legends made their name at that stadium and even the country’s independence was celebrated there, it’s a special venue for us, so the authorities must make sure that the stadium starts working again. Playing here at the NSS is like we are home away from home. We don’t really enjoy playing here at the NSS. The stadium is used by other teams, so it’s not our home per se. We want a venue that we know is ours exclusively. I’m just hoping that the process can be expedited so that we return to the stadium which has a rich history for our club as well as the country.”

Dynamos were the first to apply for a long lease, but the council spokesperson Michael Chideme said they decided against giving control of the venue to one club.

The collapse of Rufaro Stadium has created problems for the seven Harare-based teams which are part of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League considering that there is only one approved stadium in the capital, National Sports Stadium.

Other  Harare clubs have been using Baobab in Mhondoro-Ngezi for their home matches, while Black Rhinos use Sakubva Stadium in Mutare.

At times, some Harare clubs have asked to play matches on a Friday to avoid traveling outside the capital for their home matches. The refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium, thus, will be a major relief for the Harare clubs.

Match day 7 fixtures

Tomorrow: ZPC Kariba v Bulawayo Chiefs (Nyamhunga), Harare City v Chicken Inn (National Sports Stadium), Black Rhinos v FC Platinum (Sakubva), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Craneborne Bullets (Baobab), Bulawayo City v Caps United (Barbourfields).

Sunday: Whawha v Yadah (Ascot), Manica Diamonds v Triangle (Sakubva), Dynamos v Tenax (National Sports Stadium), Highlanders v Herentals (Barbourfields).

Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara