Travelling & touring: Potholed highway precipitates Colliery Stadium closure

Colliery Stadium in Hwange

THE world last week woke up to the “closure” of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Banks, two leading United States banks after they experienced a traditional run on banks where depositors rushed to withdraw their funds all at once.

These two financial institutions were later taken over by responsible authorities and depositors were assured that their investments were in safe custody and there was no need to panic as necessary modalities had already been put in place.

While it is rather early to decipher whether this financial crisis might have any effect on the travelling and touring world, fingers are already crossed.

However, there are panic signs on the banking horizon. The gist of this week's column is, however, not about banking or the financial sector, but Matabeleland North's diminishing football tourism which is in dire need of rejuvenation from the powers-that-be.

Just like how the two above- mentioned banks were saved from sliding into oblivion rather than being a laughing stock, the same should also happen to local soccer.

When one talks of top-flight soccer within this particular province, the name that instantly comes to mind is Hwange Football Club, which has regularly brought some form of entertainment to thousands of football lovers in and around the coal-mining town.

The team, which also goes by the moniker  Chipangano, is based in Hwange town whose home ground Colliery Stadium is popularly called “ku Gomba” (the pit) where visiting teams hardly emerge with a point from this imposing and impregnable  fortress.

During its heydays both in pre- and post-independence, the team produced players such as Amos Rendo one of the country’s finest defenders whose skills were second to none and left many a striker in sixes and sevens. The likes of the late Rodrick Simwanza, Twyman Ncube, Barry Daka, Nyaro Mumba and David Khumalo among others made Chipangano a force to reckon with as well as being the most feared team within the country.

In later years the team also produced a younger generation of players such as Gibert Zulu a deadly striker, rock solid defender Obert Moyo, midfield maestro Carrington Gomba and the list is endless. It is the most followed team within the province and district as well whose hard-to-please fans are a force to reckon with.

Tourists from Victoria Falls, a stone’s throw away from Hwange,   flocked to the Colliery Stadium during the team’s home games but others came from far away places such as Kasane in Botswana and Livingstone in Zambia  to watch their favourite team in action.

However, this type of soccer tourism is in danger of sliding into oblivion as the Colliery Stadium is reportedly deemed unfit for top-flight soccer and the team (Hwange Football Club) has been forced to look for an alternative venue for use as home ground.

At the time of writing this piece, a substitute “home” ground had been salvaged about 335km away — Barboufields Stadium in Bulawayo.

Some sections of ardent Hwange Football Club supporters have accused the country’s soccer administrators of pandering to the whims of the so-called big teams who in the recent past were heard complaining about the pothole-littered Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.

Yours Truly was recently told by a section of supporters that the grounds inspection team condemned the stadium as unfit at the behest of the said teams whose major impediment was the state of the main road which has been condemned by various motorists as impassable.

They went on to state that even the inspection team had a “torrid” time covering the more than 300km from Bulawayo to Hwange with their vehicle enduring the brunt of the pothole menace.

Yours Truly is somehow tempted to agree with such supporters in their line of thinking because a lot has been written in this particular column on how potholes were having a negative impact on the travelling and touring world.

And this time around it is centred on soccer tourism and the province might be denied the much sought after top flight premier tourism as they will not be able to watch their favourite teams in action.

Anyone who has in the past travelled along this route may bear witness that tell-tale signs are all over. There is urgent need to address the pothole menace.

The two financial institutions alluded to in earlier paragraphs were saved by the powers-that-be from sliding into the worst case scenario.

Thanks to the early warning signs.

A stitch in time saves time.

Yours Truly will be closely following this stadium issue.

Till we meet again in the next column.

l Comments always welcome on: [email protected] or Twitter@DubeBurzil

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