PMB gets its own taste of 2010 fever

2008-03-20 00:00

A FIRST effect of the 2010 World Cup leaving a lasting legacy was felt in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, when the sod-turning ceremony was held for the first artificial soccer pitch in KwaZulu-Natal at Wadley Stadium in Edendale.

Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo and 2010 Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan turned the earth for one of the first of four artificial pitches to be laid countrywide.

The pitches, sponsored by First National Bank at a cost of R12 million, will also be built in Kimberley, Mthatha and another venue still to be decided. Wadley Stadium’s pitch is expected to be finished in May, and will be opened in June with a match between the SA under-17 side, Amajimbos, and a southern African team.

Jordaan, who drew applause when he mentioned in his address that he lived in Imbali from 1981 to 1982, told The Witness that artificial surfaces, which last between 15 and 20 years, can be an answer for sports facilities in townships.

“The question of maintenance and playing facilities in townships has been a problem, not only in this country, but worldwide. The introduction of artificial turf will deal with the maintenance problem, and also the heavy traffic.

“It’s not a facility that takes three or four matches, but can take 10 matches a day. With artificial turf, the players will run out of steam, not the ground.”

Municipal manager Rob Haswell drew attention to the historical significance of Wadley stadium.

“In October 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed 30 000 people at this stadium. In the days of the struggle there were many funerals held here.”

Mayor Hlatshwayo said the city’s contribution to the artificial pitch is R1,25 million.

“This is a truly remarkable day for the city, and especially Edendale, because it will have the first artificial soccer turf in KwaZulu-Natal,” Hlatshwayo said.

“It is our hope that this project will enhance our chances of being considered as a training venue for 2010,” she added.

S’bono Majola, councillor of Ward 14 where the stadium is located, said: “We know our youth are involved in many issues concerning crime, drug abuse and alcohol, and the development of this stadium can help address those challenges.”

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