BEFORE the Covid-19-induced lockdown, Raylton Sports Club basketball court was the place to be in Mutare, thanks to the motorcar sport, popularly known as burnouts.
People from all walks of life and across all ages would gather — especially on Saturdays — to witness masters of the sport and popular spinners even from as far as Harare doing what they know best.
It had become Mutare’s most popular form of entertainment, yet being held at a wrong venue.
The sport left a trail of destruction on the court which used to Manicaland’s ceremonial home of basketball. The court which used to host provincial, national and international matches is now an eyesore.
Fiery fixtures such as Mutare’s City Saints vs Harare’s Celtics, Mercenaries vs Dangamvura Knights and Morningside Chiefs vs Africa University among others were some of the matches that basketball fanatics would look forward to watch every weekend.
However, it is not all gloomy for basketball lovers as Post Sport has learnt that the Manicaland Basketball Association is in talks with the responsible authorities (National Railways of Zimbabwe) to have a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two parties before the rehabilitation of the court.
“The last time we discussed with the authorities at NRZ, we expressed interests to adopt the court again and the Sports and Recreation Commission advised us that before we reach any agreement, we should write a Memorandum of Understanding in which we should both agree on the contents. We end to have this MOU in the immediate future,” said Manicaland Basketball Association president, Tonderai Shasha.
He added: “We are deeply worried about the state of affairs at the basketball court. It is in a deplorable state and we do not want a situation where once we adopt the court, issues like burnouts pop-up again.
“We understand that a lot of people, some from the Diaspora are willing to come on board and assist in cash and kind in making sure that the court is back in shape again as we try to emulate Raylton Sports Club in Gweru which has been revamped and looking classy.”
In 2015, the Manicaland Basketball Association was forced to change its venue for the 2015 season matches as Raylton basketball court was now home for the burnouts.
Once parties agree, there is need to revamp the whole court, lights and goalposts among other things. The MBA is set to hold its elections on June 19 after the lapsing of the current executive’s four-year term.
An official at one of Manicaland’s most popular basketball teams, Mercenaries, Innocent Sithole, expressed concern over the deplorable state of the court, saying its resuscitation will be a boost for the Manicaland basketball community.
He said revenue will also be generated from the use of the court by the teams affiliated to the league.
“The court should not be used for burnouts. They are many venues that can be used for such events. The court needs urgent rehabilitation and there should be a guarantee from all stakeholders that the court will not hosts burnouts again,” he said.
Basketball enthusiasts took their concern over the deplorable state of the court to the social media.
Posted Bynham Goredema with a picture: “This is the state of Raylton Basketball Court which belongs to the National Railways of Zimbabwe. This was a hub for Mutare peeps on Saturday afternoons when the league was played. A group of committed residents are looking forward to revive this court . . . ”
Others expressed interest in participating in the revival process of the court.
Said Muvheti on Twitter: “This used to be the spot. Big vibe on the weekends, people budding around the car park before games . . . ”
Said Samantha Chiwara-Sanangurai: “Am shaken, never imagined that our court could look like that. Would want to know about the revival.”
NRZ spokesperson, Nyasha Maravanyika, said: “Plans are there to resuscitate and revamp our recreational structures across the country. In the mean time, we are mainly focusing on a restructuring exercise which is currently underway as an organisation.”