Friday, June 14, 2024

Zimbabwe Cricket: President lays foundation stone for new stadium in Victoria Falls

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Photo Credit: Zimbabwe Cricket

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has laid the foundation stone for a new multi-purpose stadium that Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is building in Victoria Falls ahead of two major global cricket tournaments to be held in Zimbabwe.

The development includes the construction of a playing field, practice nets, scoreboards, broadcast and media centre, changerooms, hospitality facilities, grandstand and other spectator areas, all blending into the surrounding forest and connecting with the context of the resort town.

The new ground will be known as the Mosi-oa-Tunya International Cricket Stadium, although it will also cater for other sporting disciplines and events.

Speaking at a ceremony held at the project site this Thursday to officially mark the beginning of construction work, President Mnangagwa hailed the initiative as a “most welcome” development that will enhance the rich natural heritage associated with Victoria Falls.

“It is my great honour to officiate at this special occasion to lay the foundation stone for the Zimbabwe Cricket multi-purpose sporting infrastructure, anchored by an international cricket stadium, among other facilities,” he said.

“The project dovetails with my administration’s quest to comprehensively broaden the tourism products and integrate the development of the Masuwe Special Economic Zone through promoting sports tourism within our premium resort city of Victoria Falls.

“The location for the envisaged facility . . . will undoubtedly contribute to the speedy attainment of tourism sector targets towards our national development aspirations as outlined in the National Development Strategy and Vision 2030.”

The stadium has been earmarked as one of the venues for the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2026 that Zimbabwe will stage together with Namibia as well as the main ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2027 that the country will co-host alongside South Africa and Namibia.

“Zimbabwe is honoured and remains ready to proudly co-host the 2027 Cricket World Cup, together with our sister republics of South Africa and Namibia,” President Mnangagwa said.

“To this end, the proposed cricket stadium is one of the priority projects that will be pursued with a greater sense of urgency as we develop, improve and expand our national integrated infrastructure.”

The President commended the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture for partnering with ZC on the project.

“The modernisation and societal evolving trends and patterns in the sports and recreation sector across the world should not be ignored as we develop sports, recreation and tourism industries,” he said.

“As we focus on the construction of the Zimbabwe Cricket stadium, here in Victoria Falls, the rehabilitation, upgrading and modernisation of other sporting facilities across the country should equally be given appropriate attention.

“This includes the construction of new community sports facilities, introduction of bucket seats at our stadiums across the country, as well as adoption of e-enabled aspects of sporting activities, which facilitate pre-match bookings and e-ticketing, among other aspects.”

Delivering his remarks at the ceremony, ZC Chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said cricket was fast becoming Zimbabwe’s number one sport, “if it is not already occupying the top spot”.

“But its growing popularity is not without its challenges,” he said.

“One of those challenges is to ensure facilities are meeting the needs of users and are responding to the way cricket and community sport is being consumed.

“With more players and a range of different cricket formats recently being introduced, the demand on cricket facilities and infrastructure is greater than ever.

“Our strategy as Zimbabwe Cricket provides a clear direction for the planning, provision and development of community cricket facilities.

“We have identified key facility priorities in each of the 10 provinces of our country, with our main focus being on constructing new stadiums and improving and expanding the capacity of existing facilities.”

Mr Mukuhlani said ZC’s ultimate objective remains to grow the game of cricket to make it a sport for all, offering opportunities to play, attend, watch and follow.

“Of course, long after the World Cup is done and gone, the real lasting legacy will not just be new or improved stadiums and training sites, but the rise of the next generation of Zimbabwe cricketers,” he said.

“We want to see clubs, schools and provincial cricket thriving. We want to see Victoria Falls and surrounding areas producing future international stars.

“This is not just wishful thinking – we have a solid plan in place to ensure that becomes a reality.

“Mr President, Sir, we give you our word: we remain committed to playing our part in building our Zimbabwe and putting it on the world map.

“And, on this, we are not going to drop any catches!”

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