MANICALAND’S ceremonial home of football — Sakubva Stadium — is now ready to play host to Castle Lager Premier Soccer League matches following the completion of extensive drainage and turf renovations that lasted more than half a year.
Mutare City Council took the bold decision to renovate the stadium after the local authority observed that the drainage system which was commissioned in 1963 had collapsed.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mutare-based PSL outfit, Manica Diamonds and Eastern Region Division One side, Mutare City Rovers played a test match at the venue, the first match to be played there since it was closed for renovations mid last year.
Manica Diamonds coach, Jairos ‘JT’ Tapera expressed satisfaction with the progress covered so far in the renovation work of the facility.
“It is work in progress. The pitch is still not yet wholly covered with green grass and it is slippery. I think we just to have play three or four matches there for it to improve.
“Otherwise, they did a good job and I hope it will fit the acceptable standards so that we can have our home matches at Sakubva Stadium, unlike the past season where we were on the road week in week out,” said Tapera.
In a separate interview, Mutare City Council spokesperson, Spren Mutiwi said: “The test match was a perfect signal to show the state of the usability of Sakubva Stadium. We still stand by our promise that Sakubva Stadium will be ready during the 2024 soccer season.We are impressed by the results registered after the test soccer match pitting Mutare Rovers and Manica Diamonds.
“The contractor is still working on improving the quality of the turf and the quality of the surface. We believe it will meet the approval requirements.
“Current turf management practices we are deploying include application of fertiliser. Nitrogen fertiliser was applied to improve the leaf blade of the loan and stolons (sub surface stems) which constitute the turf. These efforts are to make deep green lawn.
“Top dressing — this is a turf management art and science where a soil or organic matter is added on top of a lawn to enhance surface levelling, greening and add organic oriented nutrients on the lawn. In the Sakubva case, tobacco dust and scrap was used.
“The tobacco dust/scrap effect is being managed for the best results. The turf should have a spring effect to the players. Surface drainage — the design of the Sakubva Stadium drainage system was meant to have 60 to 70 percent of the rain or irrigation water to drain as runoff on the surface of the turf and 30 percent as sub-surface drainage.
“The sub- surface drainage is very effective and it serves the purpose of the design. The lateral or surface drainage is part of the current management work,” he said.
Mutiwi, however, noted that following observations after the test match, slight backfilling had to be applied, while hand rolling of the turf done has to be done.