Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has declared its intention of being the country’s City of choice in hosting international sporting activities and will take a deliberate approach to improve the various sporting facilities which will also help boost sports tourism.
Sports management defines sports tourism as an act of travelling from one location to another with the goal of being an audience member to a sports competition of any kind. On the global stage, sports tourism generates approximately US$7,68 billion.
While Bulawayo is historically known as the country’s industrial hub, its director of housing and community services, Dictor Khumalo, believes that status can also apply in the sports sector and hence their resolve to make sure the City has state of the art sporting facilities that will help lure regional and international sports organisations.
“We want to be the City of Choice when it comes to hosting sporting activities such as soccer, swimming athletics, tennis, basketball you name it and this we shall ensure by providing professional and world class infrastructure,” said Khumalo, himself an avid sports person and a great footballer in particular who spends his spare time playing for Amavevane Social Club in the Golden Oldies Social Soccer League.
Early this week, the Confederation of African Football raised a red flag on Mandava and the National Sports Stadium located in Zvishavane and Harare respectively while giving Bulawayo’s Barbourfields Stadium the green light to host international matches.
Caf laid down some recommendations and renovations which have to be done at Barbourfields Stadium in order for the facility to be fully compliant with expected standards and Khumalo said Council embraced the suggestions and will make sure it complies.
“The games are beneficial to city residents (socially, economically, culturally and otherwise) and as such we greatly value them being hosted in the city hence we are very keen to comply with the Caf recommendations,” said Khumalo. On Thursday Khumalo said they might have to seek for external expertise to work on the Barbourfields Stadium recommendations since the City might not have the necessary in-house skills.
“We may need external assistance as we do not have in-house technical skills for some of the requirements which are technical and need relevant expertise,” said Khumalo.
Besides Barbourfields Stadium, the City also has Khumalo Hockey Stadium which can play host to international matches as it is still in perfect condition.
In 2014, Bulawayo played host to the fifth edition of the African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Youth Games that saw a number of sporting facilities being constructed while existing ones were improved upon.