Ray Bande Senior Reporter
RAPTURES of joy and jubilation, epitomised by social media frenzy, reverberated in Manicaland mainly among followers of the game of football as news filtered through that the Premier Soccer League had finally allowed Vengere Stadium in Rusape to host domestic top flight league matches.
A bumper crowd is expected when the Gem Boys, as Manica Diamonds are fondly referred to, host highly-rated Ngezi Platinum at Vengere Stadium on Sunday in Manica Diamonds’ first match to be played at the Rusape sports facility.
The match starts at 3pm.
For the past 11 rounds of Premier Soccer League matches, Manica Diamonds, the province’s sole top flight league outfit, had been forced to host their home matches at Gibo Stadium in Triangle after Vengere Stadium was deemed unfit.
Even after some renovations by Rusape Town Council and subsequent homologation by Zifa First Instance Body, PSL continued circulating fixtures indicating that Manica Diamonds play their home matches at Gibbo Stadium in Triangle.
This did not go down well with folks in Manicaland who felt hard done by the decision to have their team hosting their home matches some 350km away in Triangle.
Consequently, Manica Diamonds played before an almost empty Gibbo Stadium each time the team travelled to Triangle to play their home matches as football followers in that sugarcane farming area identified more with Triangle FC than Manica Diamonds.
It would seem there was more than meets the eye in the PSL decision to refuse to have Vengere Stadium be used by Manica Diamonds as some influential forces in the domestic Premiership were believed to be bent on disadvantaging the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company bankrolled outfit both in terms of revenue collection as well as morale in the terraces during matches.
However, this week PSL finally circulated Match Day 12 fixtures indicating Manica Diamonds will host Ngezi Platinum at Vengere Stadium on Sunday.
In an interview with Diamond FM after the annunciation of this weekend’s fixtures, Manica Diamonds chairman Masimba Chihowa could not hide his joy as he thanked Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Ellen Gwaradzimba, and Rusape Town Council.
“In fact, it is great news for the province and the team itself. They (fans in Manicaland) now have a chance to watch their team at Vengere Stadium in Rusape. They last saw the team playing when we were in Division One.
“I would want to thank our principal sponsor ZCDC who stood by the team in difficult times. It is definitely going to go a long way in helping the team going forward. Now that we are back at home we hope we will be able to raise more fans with our fans coming in their numbers to support the team.
“We expect very positive results. When you play at home players have enough time to rest and also our players will now also enjoy the advantage of playing in a familiar territory all their home matches from now on,” said Chihowa.
He thanked Gwaradzimba and Rusape Town Council for helping the team towards the realization of the dream to play at Vengere stadium.
“Rusape Town Council’s support was just outstanding.
“I have worked with local authorities before but I must say Rusape Town Council is just exceptional.
“Their initiatives are great. I would not have done justice if I do not thank Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Dr Gwaradzimba for the role she played in the process that culminated into us being allowed to host our matches at Vengere Stadium,” he said.