Inside Sports: The Heart Stadium is too good but…????

Before we get too excited the stadium at the moment has a capacity of only 5 000 spectators which makes it unable to host supporters of crowd-pulling clubs like Dynamos, Highlanders, and to a lesser extent Caps United.

WE were all there in the searing heat deep in Waterfalls to celebrate the official opening of The Heart Stadium by the president of this country, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

We all enjoyed the day, and the food too, not forgetting the football family some of whom we had not met for years including former Zimbabwe Women’s Football Association supremo Susan Chibizhe.

In our midst too was Theresa Maguraushe, another of the women who made what our football and in particular women’s football what it is today.

Although the Zifa normalisation committee was missing, we had the pleasure of the company of the Premier Soccer League’s Farai Jere and of course Kennedy Ndebele, and former Zifa Mashonaland East chairman Francis Zimunya.

Surely, we cannot talk about the absence of this Lincoln Mutasa-led Zifa normalisation committee because none of them seems seriously interested in football development, but in the huge perks on offer.

All they are doing — it seems — is meant at delaying all processes so that they get time extension at the helm of Zimbabwean football in order to continue fattening their pockets.

As the flip-flop continues, football critic Admire Muhimeke commented that the NC got it all wrong with regard to the Heart Stadium project.

“If they could not be at such a big football occasion, then there is no reason why they are in football. They were the ones who were supposed to be leading the way, not the Sports Commission who are far away from the football corridors. I think the NC owes the football family an apology,” remarked Muhimeke.

Even in their absence, we toured The Heart Stadium and saw how beautiful it was, including the field of play and the stands which contain the bucket seats which we so need at the National Sports Stadium.

Sports minister Kirsty Coventry was also there to have a feel of what needs to be done to make our National Sports Stadium playable with other countries.

Surely, prophet Walter Magaya should be applauded for coming up with such a state-of-the-art football facility but should be reminded of the fact that the job has not yet been completed.

Before we get too excited the stadium at the moment has a capacity of only 5 000 spectators which makes it unable to host supporters of crowd-pulling clubs like Dynamos, Highlanders, and to a lesser extent Caps United.

In all honesty, The Heart Stadium is best suited for matches involving Yadah against small teams like Herentals, Simba Bhora, Hwange, Bulawayo Chiefs, Greenfuel, ZPC Kariba and the newly promoted PSL sides.

This means Yadah cannot share this stadium as a home with Dynamos or Caps United because their fans cannot fit, but they probably can share the ground with the likes of Herentals, and Simba Bhora, who have a small following.

Maybe we are getting it all wrong and that The Heart Stadium is all there for use only as the home ground of Yadah Football Club and not any other team and its capacity fits Yadah’s status.

Even in its attractive form, the stadium does not qualify to host international matches because an international venue should be able to carry 10 000 spectators or more compared to the 5 000 that Heart Stadium carries.

Magaya has promised that the stadium capacity would be increased to 10 000, but he has not given us an idea when this would be or whether it would be before the start of the 2024 soccer season.

Surely, we can talk over and over again about how beautiful Heart Stadium looks but if it cannot be used fully by the football family for the intended purposes, then we are only one foot forward while the other is still behind.

The prophet has made overtures that he wants to construct another stadium in his home town of Chitungwiza but the advice would be for him to complete what still remains at The Heart Stadium before embarking on other projects.

It would be unfair for a project that has attracted so much attention to end up being used by a handful of PSL clubs and for that matter those who do not attract much of a crowd.

We all know how beautiful The Heart Stadium looks, we all have seen how good the pitch is but we need to mend the grey areas so that the stadiums becomes usable by all PSL clubs - big or small- and the national teams as well.

We know for sure, there are one or two within us, who will try to crucify us for pointing out such important issues but the truth is that reality cannot be hidden.

Surely, it is good to give credit where it is due but we should also depart from the habit of trying to please people by telling them what they want to hear and giving the impression that all is well when the direction should be to give advice for one or two things to be made right.

Surely a lot has been done to make Heart Stadium a top class facility but a lot still needs to be done to make it 100 percent of what exactly it should be and that includes other things outside capacity.

So far, it is so good for Magaya and The Heart Stadium, but we want to see it go for 10 000 or more spectators so that it fulfills the ideals of why it was constructed in the first place.

We don’t want one day to hear football fans shouting aaaa kastadium kadiki aka…..We rest our case.

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