Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
PROPHET Walter Magaya has had a change of heart and will not only complete the construction of a multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art multi-sports complex in Waterfalls, which he had abandoned midway into the project, but also help national football teams both financially and spiritually.
This follows his meeting with Sports and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane at his Waterfalls complex yesterday where they discussed, among other things, what had driven Magaya against helping national football teams and led him to abandon construction of the multi-purpose sports complex.
Magaya chronicled the frustrations that had driven him away from supporting sport in this country, including his decision to halt construction of the multi-sports complex, during his meeting with the hard-working Sports Minister.
The Prophetic Healing and Deliverance leader has in the past poured more than $100 000 into the coffers of both the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors, including praying for the senior women national team, ahead of their historic triumph in securing a ticket to this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Magaya was hailed by the Sports Commission, as an all-weather friend of Zimbabwe football, at the Annual National Sports Awards while he also sponsored the end-of-season ZIFA Northern Region Division One awards ceremony.
Yesterday, Hlongwane, the Mberengwa East legislator and the Director of Sport in the Sports and Recreation Ministry Eugenia Chidhakwa were taken on a tour of the Yadah Village by Magaya, which on completion, should host the country’s first sporting centre of excellence.
The complex will have a stadium with a carrying capacity of 15 000, accommodation for athletes and offices for administration as well as facilities for boxing, aquatics, equestrian, netball, volleyball and hockey.
“It was a special visit from the Minister of Sports and we appreciate it, so we received him and he came here to revive things which I think I had pulled out of,” said Magaya.
“I think it came to his attention that I am no longer that much active in sport so he picked it out and he came to ask why and then I gave him the reasons, which I am not at liberty to say now.
“But I told him and he said that I must continue so I think we have reached an agreement over some certain issues which we will look into.
“This is a respected person and if you see him knocking at your door it means there is something he is picking which needs to be revived so, out of his visit, yes, I can say so (I am back into partnering sport).”
The prophet revealed he has also pulled out of Division One club Gunners, which is now part of the ambitious CAPS United project, and taken a sabbatical from sport.
“We have pulled out of sponsoring Gunners Football Club. I had pulled out of sport totally, I started constructing this stadium in November and my target was to finish this year but I had pulled out of sport, and that is every sport, because of what was happening behind the scenes, which I explained to him, line by line, why I had pulled out
“In short, it was now coming like it was an obligation, and not a choice, to sponsor and the way we were being received, just in short I would say, I felt used.
“While I was doing it for my nation, and doing it for the glory of God, the way it was coming out, how it was received, the response and how it came back to me, I decided to stop, even constructing the stadium.
“We had more than one million bricks here but I removed them all and took them to some other projects.
“My plan, my approach over sport, I wanted to create a team more like for Olympics, that was my idea, I was saying when I grew up I had people who were good boxers, good runners, but they never got an opportunity so I was expecting, if I take someone from let’s say Mhondoro or Gokwe and accommodate them here, train them, giving them proper diet for boxing, proper diet for athletics.
“That was my idea. If you want to excel in sport you also have to change your diet and lifestyle. I had already bought the tartan track and it was coming so that this pitch is multi-purpose but I just abandoned everything.”
Hlongwane said it was important that sport safeguards its investors and partners.
“He is an important stakeholder as far as Sports and Recreation in the country is concerned in more ways than one. First, he is building a sports village here, a High-Performance Centre, which is an integrated sport and recreation facility,” said Hlongwane.
“He is building a 15 000-seater stadium. He is building a facility for netball and volleyball. He is building a facility for aquatics. He is building a facility for horse racing, so this is a huge investment, I mean we are talking about millions of dollars.
“Sport and Recreation, as a sector, is desperate for investment and we are very happy to be associated with good intentions, with the good work that Prophet Walter Magaya has done, as far as contributing to the development of the Sport and Recreation movement is concerned.
“As he says, we got wind of the fact that his good intentions were being arrested by certain things and I thought I should come to understand what the problem was, again those are not matters for public consumption, we prefer to be media-shy as far as those issues are concerned.
“Suffice to say we are in agreement on the way forward. Number one, that he will again direct his exuberant energy towards the revival of the construction works around this facility.
“Number two, that he will get our unconditional support in making sure that the facility does come to fruition as far as construction is concerned.
“His involvement, the coming in of the church makes sure that community sport development and success is guaranteed.
“The second thing, as the ministry of Sport, we are interested in is clean sport, when church embraces sport it immediately assist us with issues of doping, issues of drug abuse and making sure that issues of fairness are addressed as an integral part of the development of the sports movement.”
Hlongwane also paid a visit to the Polo Association of Zimbabwe and encouraged them to grow the sport.