Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter MATABELELAND North Senator and member of the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Sport, Arts and Recreation Alice Dube has said demolishing Barbourfields Stadium to meet Fifa and Caf standards should never be an option now or in the near future.
Dube said all efforts must be made to refurbish the stadium to the expected standards of the football governing bodies.
The Tsholotsho-based senator said her fears were that once Emagumeni is demolished, the region could remain without a proper football stadium for probably the next 20 years.
She was part of the stadium tour last week when the committee chaired by Chivi North MP Mathias Tongofa assessed progress towards meeting the Fifa and Caf standards.
The parliamentarians were told that one of the key requirements was standard dressing rooms, which meant demolishing the VIP stand since the current rooms were a mere 10 percent of the required size. Fifa and Caf standards require that dressing rooms be 240 square metres, but Barbourfields Stadium dressing rooms only measure 35 square metres.
Another senator, who was part of the entourage, questioned why resources should be channelled towards the 70-year-old facility that will reach its lifespan in the next 50 years instead of demolishing it and building a new structure.
“That is not an option (to demolish). It must not be an option now and in future. Instead resources must be channelled towards improving this stadium so that it draws closer to meeting those required standards because we don’t want our people to remain without a stadium. Constructing a new stadium is not a stroll in the park and it’s certainly not an overnight project. We have been to other areas and the position was that those stadiums must be refurbished to meet standards, so why should Barbourfields Stadium be demolished? The idea was wrong, it’s still wrong and it will perpetually be wrong. Akufakwe imali istadium silungiswe. Idlalele ngaphi iHighlanders,” Dube said.
The legislators were told that one of the requirements by Fifa and Caf was installation of bucket seats, which will see the stadium’s seating capacity dramatically falling from 21 450 to about 12 000.