By Matabeleland North Correspondent
SPORTS Minister Kirsty Coventry has said she will this week issue a statement pertaining to the banning of
Zimbabwe stadia by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) from hosting international football matches.
Coventry, who appeared to seek ideas from about 200 youths from different African countries while interfacing with them on the sidelines of the 6th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRFSD), said she was gathering different views.
CAF dropped a bombshell which was confirmed by ZIFA in a statement on Tuesday that the continental mother body had barred the country’s stadia from hosting international matches, which will likely see Zimbabwe play its upcoming 2021 international football home matches in neighbouring countries.
Initially, CAF had barred the National Sports Stadium and other facilities not suitable with hope pinned on Barbourfields Stadium.
However, the Bulawayo stadium used for home matches by Highlanders was also condemned, leaving the country with no suitable ground to host international matches.
“If you were in my shoes as Minister of Sport, what would you do with the CAF/Zifa issue where you have national stadia not in your portfolio? For the past 20 years, stadia, just like other sporting facilities, have been going down,” said Coventry as she threw a question to the youth.
Coventry, who has been in Victoria Falls since Monday attending the forum and also overseeing a target shooting event in the resort town, said it was unfortunate that CAF decided to ban the country’s stadia at this time when the national team will soon be resuming matches towards qualification for African glory.
During the interface, Coventry had been asking youth questions about their views on wide ranging issues which involve education, technology, governance and the AFRFSD conference in particular.
The youths advised the minister to take Zifa leadership to task for failing to manage facilities while others said it was time for the country to introspect.
Asked about the matter soon after the meeting, Coventry said she was still consulting and would issue a statement Thursday morning.
CAF inspected local football facilities about two months ago before condemning the state of the National Sports Stadium and Mandava.
Barbourfields had received a partial clearance to host international matches, with the inspectors demanding that floodlights at the stadium be improved.
No improvement has been made so far which leaves the country facing the grim prospects of playing all its home matches outside the country.
The local football mother-body said it has started the process of looking for an alternative venue outside the country.
Zimbabwe hosts Algeria on March 31 in the return fixture of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group H back-to-back qualifier clashes.
The 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium is managed by the Ministry of Local Government while Barbourfields is owned by the Bulawayo City Council.
Earlier on Wednesday, Coventry toured sporting facilities and other projects in Victoria Falls where she said the resort town has potential to grow in sports tourism.
She visited newly established Victoria Falls Boxing Club and some projects including the Women’s Voice Housing Co-operative club.
“Youths should work together to attract other young people to showcase their talents. Those involved in art should also start training others so we preserve culture,” said Coventry.