BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has hatched a master plan to build 20 low-cost stadia across the country’s 10 provinces in a Fifa-funded project, which is valued at US$10 million.
The local football motherbody has already applied for a grant to embark on the ambitious venture from world football governing body Fifa, which should be approved before the end of the year.
It is the first major football development project that the current Zifa leadership under Felton Kamambo has rolled out after successfully clearing the legacy debt of about $10 million.
“In three weeks’ time we are going to be completely debt-free and whatever we do now is not under threat from creditors. We have already applied for funding for the stadia project from Fifa. “Since we are looking to build two low-cost stadiums in every province, we are going to need US$10 million for the project,” Zifa acting vice-president Philemon Machana said.
“We intend to begin as soon as Fifa approves and they should do that before the end of the year. Everyone knows that we have a challenge with our football facilities in the country and we have decided to play our part beginning at grassroots level.
“We will be targeting those traditional football facilities that have produced a lot of our yesteryear greats in the provinces to upgrade them. “We would basically put a perimeter fence, ablution facilities, the turf, nets and markings. We just want football to be played in communities as well as exciting the kids to want to play football,” Machana said.
Once the project is concluded Zifa intends to introduce a second phase of stadia upgrade where they can get council facilities that they can spruce up for use by Zifa and their affiliates.
“The second phase would be under a build-operate-transfer contract where we will have control over the use of the facilities we have upgraded. We don’t want the Rufaro Stadium scenario where we put the artificial turf using Fifa funds, but we were asked to pay money each time we wanted to use the facility.
“Zifa did not have control, which is why the turf deteriorated faster compared to the one at Zifa Village even though they were put around the same period. I hear the City of Harare is planning to dispose of some of such facilities and once that is official we will be the first to knock at their door,” he said.
Machana revealed that Fifa intends to build a state-of-the-art stadium for each of the member associations in Africa in future, which would be under the full control of Zifa.