‘World-class’ sports academy for Mpumalanga

2011-12-08 14:41

In an attempt to stop playing second fiddle to other provinces in the sports and performing arts fields, the Mpumalanga government will establish a sports academy and cultural hub.

These projects are at an advanced stage, MEC of culture, sport and recreation Sibongile Manana said today.

The department, Manana said, has bought a piece of land for R11 million in Belfast to begin constructing the “world-class” sports academy in Belfast.

“We should be prepared to roll out phase one of the project at the beginning of next year. We’re in the process of conducting the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study, and will conclude the master plan and designs in January next year,” she said.

Manana said the academy will cater for 40 different sporting codes which include soccer, boxing, karate, netball, basketball and volleyball.

A boarding school for selected young athletes will be built.

“The cost of the whole project has not been determined yet. However, this will be a world class facility with a gymnasium, hostels, chalets and a science centre. Both professional and amateur athletes will be able to use it, and will be able to host big sport events as well,” said Manana.

Land for the cultural hub has been identified in White River, but negotiations with the owners were still ongoing.

The cultural hub will cater for various genres such as music, theatre, dance, craft and drama.

“It’s going to be a one-stop shop. A business plan and development strategy is ready. We expect it to create revenue for the province as well, because people using our music studios for example will have to be charged a fee,” Manana said.

Mpumalanga has produced a few sports and entertainment stars but most of them had to relocate to Johannesburg for mentoring and to carve a niche for themselves.

Among those are musician Ray “Chikapa” Phiri, marathon runner Josia Thugwane and Orlando Pirates and former Bafana Bafana left back Lucas Thwala.

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