THE Government insists the Warriors’ next home assignment will be played at the refurbished National Sports Stadium and the procurement of bucket seats for the country’s biggest stadium was at an advanced stage.
Bucket seats were also being procured for Barbourfields in Bulawayo and Sakubva in Mutare.
With the AFCON finals having been moved from next year to 2022 following CAF executive committee meeting yesterday, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government said the long break in international football activities would afford them enough time to renovate the giant stadium.
The National Sports Stadium was banned from hosting international matches by CAF in March because of a number of concerns raised by the continental football governing body’s experts.
The media centre, medical room, disability section and the playing turf have all been upgraded at the giant stadium but the Government have had difficulties in procuring bucket seats due to restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, indicated the Government wanted to order the bucket seats for all the three stadiums at once.
And yesterday, Tino Machakaire, the deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, said the window opened by the postponement of the AFCON finals, and qualifiers, will give them ample time to procure and install bucket seats, starting with the National Sports Stadium.
“It is a very important decision that has been taken by the Confederation of African Football. The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious issue. Postponing these tournaments was the best thing to do,” said Machakaire.
“And, in terms of our situation as a footballing country, I think we have something to smile about.
“We have been running around renovating the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields. Plans to go to Sakubva were also underway.
“But we have been hurrying to address some flaws at the National Sports Stadium and we have so far managed to address about 90 percent of what was being asked by CAF.
“We had decided to let the stadium go for inspection, without us installing bucket seats. Not that we didn’t want to install them, but we have been struggling to find a way to ship them in once we procure them.
“There are a lot of restrictions on the borders due to this coronavirus epidemic.
“But, we will have to run around, this time, to make sure that by the time the next international fixture is hosted in Zimbabwe, the National Sports Stadium will have bucket seats installed.”
Machakaire said the Government will stick with the original plan to secure bucket seats for all the three stadiums at once.
He added that the bucket seats could be installed simultaneously at all the three facilities if engineering conditions were met at Barbourfields and Sakubva.
There have been concerns, particularly for Barbourfields, whose capacity could be significantly reduced if bucket seats are installed, and engineers have been asked to come up with efficient designs at the Bulawayo stadium to minimise that scenario.
“Like we have said previously, we will still procure the bucket seats for the three stadiums at once since that way would be cost effective.
“We cannot buy the bucket seats separately. We are in the process of doing all that right now and we hope that we will be able to procure the items as soon as possible.
“The bucket seats, depending on engineering guys at all the three facilities could as well be installed simultaneously, making it possible for all the stadiums to have bucket seats by the time we host our first international fixtures.”
At the moment, engineers are working on renovating all the three stadiums with the National Sports Stadium showing marked improvements throughout the facility.
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