Monday 11 December 2023


THE Zifa Normalisation Committee might have shot themselves in the foot after failing to attend the commissioning of Heart Stadium by President Emerson Mnangagwa yesterday.

Hundreds of people including top government officials, ambassadors, business people, premier league bosses, coaches and players, thronged the Yadah Complex in Waterfalls, Harare, to witness the grand official opening of the state of the art facility built by Yadah’s leader Walter Magaya.

However, the Zifa Normalisation Committee was conspicuously absent, attracting the ire of Sports and Recreation Commission chairman Gerald Mlotshwa who vowed to deal with the Lincoln Mutasa-led group.

Giving the vote of thanks at the well-attended ceremony, Mlothswa expressed his disappointment that the Normalisation Committee, as the custodian of local football, snubbed such an important event despite receiving formal invitations.

"Your Excellency, I note that the Zifa Normalisation Committee, notwithstanding specific invitations from the host and SRC, is not here representing football," Mlotshwa said. “That, your Excellency, is an anomaly we will attend to. Efforts of this nature should be supported by all so that we move in one direction.”

The Heart Stadium, a 5 000 seater built on Caf design specifications, has trendy dugouts — a first of its kind in the country — a modern VIP enclosure and corporate boxes.

There are the spacious dressing rooms equipped with 100-inch television sets and other modern electronic facilities. Magaya said he intends to double the sitting capacity to 10 000 before February next year for it to host international matches.

He has opened doors to Ngezi Platinum and Dynamos to use the facility for their continental club matches next year.

Mlotshwa called for other players in the private sector to follow Magaya's footsteps in developing sports infrastructure in the country.

"To Prophet Magaya and Amai Magaya, thank you for pioneering this clarion call for investment in sports infrastructure. You have set the pace, it is our expectation that more will follow. This is a well thought out addition to our existing stadia. I urge you to continue in this trajectory," Mlotshwa said.

None of the Zifa Normalisation Committee members were immediately available for comment late yesterday.

Mnangagwa was impressed by what he saw after touring the facilities.

"I must highlight that when Magaya came to see me at State House to invite me to officially open this facility, I asked him twice to check if what I was seeing on the pictures was really on the ground. Now that I have toured the infrastructure, I am truly impressed," he said.

"Well done, you have done a great job for the country. Many people including me until today did not know that we had such an impressive infrastructure here in Waterfalls. I further challenge more of our citizens, sports persons and privates sector players, to pick up opportunities to develop modern sporting facilities.

"It is praiseworthy that this stadium was constructed in keeping with international best practices including guidelines of Confederation of African Football and the Federation of International Football.

It is my expectation that this Heart Stadium hosts high level sporting events. Modern sport infrastructure goes a long way in enhancing the quality and standards of our sporting disciplines and ultimately the performance of our national teams," Mnangagwa added.

Sports minister Kirsty Coventry was also full of praise for Magaya's project.

"I want to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the architects, engineers and construction teams who have worked tirelessly to bring this vision to life. Their expertise and dedication has created a world class facility which will not only provide a home for our athletes but also host national and international events.

"I envision this facility to be good not only for sport but also cultural exchanges concerts and a place for young people to converge and learn new skills that would further enrich their lives," she said.


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