Artificial grass for NSS? COME LET’S PLAY . . . Geo Pomona Waste Management chief executive officer Dilesh Nguwaya (with back to camera) waits in anticipation as Minister of Sport, Arts, Recreation and Culture Kirsty Coventry takes a symbolic shot from the penalty spot during a tour of the Geo Pomona sport and recreation facilities yesterday. — Picture by Innocent Makawa.

Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter

THE Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation is assessing the feasibility of having artificial turf fitted on the National Sports Stadium as part of the renovations to meet international standards. 

This was said by Minister Kirsty Coventry during a tour of the Geo Pomona Waste Management sports and recreation facilities in Harare yesterday. 

The project comprises two basketball courts, twin tennis courts, and a football pitch which recently got FIFA certification. Besides the FIFA approval for recreational football, the certification will also make the Geo Pomona artificial turf football pitch eligible for national team training. 

Coventry was impressed by the quality of the pitch and revealed the Ministry was also planning something along those lines for the National Sports Stadium, which has been condemned by CAF and FIFA as unfit for international football after failing to meet the standards. 

“As a country, all other soccer facilities focused on grass. But what we have here (at Geo Pomona) is showing that it (artificial turf) is a better quality to go with, potentially easier to maintain if you have got the right equipment, which Geo Pomona has said they do. 

“FIFA won’t accredit unless the equipment is there to maintain. They have got good water. So that’s all that we have been looking at with other facilities because the grass is sometimes a little bit harder if you don’t have good and adequate water, maintenance, and the right lawnmowers; it can be very difficult. 

“I know at our National Sports Stadium we have had to try and replace the grass over years and now you end up with several different types of grass and that’s not the best facility. 

“So, we have also been looking at bringing in, as part of the revamping of the National Stadium, an astro-turf for the main stadium, keeping the grass in the B arena for now. 

“So we are working towards that. I just asked for the contacts who brought in their (Geo Pomona) astro-turf so that we can measure up against the companies that have already brought it to us and we will go from there. 

“But I think if there is the right management in place as well as all the other components and the right equipment, then an astro-turf is the way to go and that is what we will be advocating for as a Ministry for the National Sports Stadium,” said Coventry. 

However, the experiment with artificial turf has in the past failed in Zimbabwe. FIFA in 2008 installed a synthetic turf at Rufaro Stadium under the FIFA Forward Programme but the surface degenerated and became unusable and a hazard to the players due to lack of maintenance. 

It has since been removed.

With the 2026 World Cup qualifiers around the corner, Coventry responded to the news that 35,000 units of bucket seats to be installed at the National Sports Stadium have been purchased and are on the way to Zimbabwe. 

“We are all excited,” she said. 

“But I’ll confirm once they get here and have seen them with my own eyes because we all know what can happen with transport and logistics. 

“So I don’t want to confirm that there is something that is arriving on a certain date. I am sure that my friends here at Geo Pomona can say the same because their turf took a bit longer when coming from outside the country. 

“There are issues of clearance and things like that but we are excited to finally be very much moving forward in terms of our direction with the bucket seats. 

“There has been some good management going on at the National Sports Stadium in terms of water reticulation; it’s an old building, so when you start digging up certain things there are other things that pop up. 

But we are working with our engineers to ensure that everything is done safely,” said Coventry.

Coventry toured the Geo Pomona Waste Management facilities in the afternoon yesterday in the company of officials from the ministry. 

She was briefed by Geo Pomona Waste Management chief executive officer Dilesh Nguwaya and the company’s General Manager Enea Murataj on how the company has turned around what used to be a smelly dumpsite into a world-class sporting facility in the last five months.

The project houses two high-quality tennis courts, two basketball courts, and a football pitch which recently got FIFA certification. 

The FIFA certification will also make the artificial turf football pitch eligible for national team training.

“I think the facilities are incredible,” Coventry said after the tour. 

“To think that once this was a massive dumpsite and to hear all the information and the work that has gone into the cleaning, the clearing, and the revamping and now to be standing on an astro-turf that is a high standard, internationally recognised, is incredible and I want to thank Geo Pomona Waste Management and the team for giving back into sport and recreation.” 

Nguwaya said they are looking to construct terraces, and changing rooms, and add a restaurant at the facility.

“The important thing is that our national team will come and train here when they play against other teams that use this kind of turf. The other facilities to be added here include a restaurant, stands, and changing room,” said Nguwaya.

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