BY HENRY MHARA HARARE City Council officials flew into South Africa this week on a stadium benchmarking tour as preparations for the refurbishment of Rufaro Stadium into a world-class facility gather momentum.
The trip is funded by Sakunda Holdings, which had pledged to provide funds for the renovations of the stadium in Mbare to meet Fifa standards.
Yesterday, the delegation led by acting town clerk Norman Karidza toured the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg where they met architects who designed the facility as well as the companies that installed bucket seats.
“We are here at the FNB Stadium with our friends from Sakunda Holdings. We have come to see this world-class stadium, looking at some things that we can adopt for Rufaro Stadium in partnership with Sakunda,” said councillor Patson Chikwaka, who is part of the delegation.
“We are analysing how they carried out their operations and how they have managed to come up with such a beautiful stadium so that we can have Rufaro up to this standard or maybe somewhere closer to the standard we are seeing here.”
The 12-man delegation which also included officials from Sakunda were expected to travel to Durban last night for a similar tour of the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“We are currently in South Africa on a fact-finding tour of stadiums as we promised our stakeholders earlier this year,” Sakunda Holdings projects manager Nqobile Magwizi said. “The delegation is all-inclusive as it comprises Harare City Council officials as well as Sakunda Holdings representatives. We have come to see how our neighbours have done similar projects and it is our belief that at the end of the tour, we will emerge with new ideas and a feasibility report that might be helpful in our Rufaro Stadium project. The project is in its initial stage and we should ensure that there is input from everyone. Our major aim as Sakunda Holdings in this social corporate responsibility gesture is to make Rufaro Stadium meet modern international standards as it hosts matches.”
Harare early this year agreed to lease the stadium to Sakunda Holdings which will see the energy giant, owned by businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei, refurbish the facility into a world-class venue.
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Rufaro Stadium last hosted football matches during the 2019 league season before it was red-flagged by Zifa in 2020.
The stadium has since become an eyesore after renovations by the city council were stopped midway.
Sakunda says it wants to drive community development in Mbare, including refurbishing the stadium for use by Dynamos and other local football clubs. The company is also looking to rehabilitate Belgravia Sports Club for use by Dynamos for training purposes as part of the deal.
The Harare giants currently use Prince Edward High School grounds for training sessions.
Sakunda sponsors giants Dynamos and Highlanders on the local football scene.
- Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara