From turf to trash

2016-11-08 15:37
The view from one of the fields outside Turfhall Stadium which has deteriorated.

The view from one of the fields outside Turfhall Stadium which has deteriorated. (Nashieba Murat)

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The sports complex at Turfhall is synonymous with softball and soccer.

The venue hosted the Junior Women’s Softball World Championship (JSWC) in 2011, the first and only time the tournament was hosted on African soil.

However, in the years which have followed, the outside fields, where both soccer and softball are played throughout the year, have deteriorated to such an extent that it has become an injury hazard for those who use it.

According to a technical report by Peter Lawrence, technical director of the Cape Town Softball Association’s (CTSA), three season-threatening injuries were recorded in one week alone.

“It’s just getting worse and worse. You can look at the outer fields. We agree that soccer is also [played] there and the fields will get worn, but they [the City of Cape Town] don’t do anything,” states Lawrence.


ue to the high rate of usage, the fields only have a two months a year to rejuvenate; in April once the softball season ends and again in September when the soccer season ends.

Anda Ntsodo, Mayco member for community services, says that water restrictions, combined with the limited time the grass has to recover, have played a role in the rapid deterioration of the outside fields, which are more exposed to the elements than the A and B fields, which have a stadium and fence surrounding them.

Furthermore, Ntsodo sites that league games of the various codes had to complete their finals, which added to the load the sports complex had to carry.

Ntsodo, who states that the cost for the grass area alone on the soccer fields is around R1m, says it is difficult for the City to ascertain the need if it cannot determine the number of clubs affiliated to the associations which use the grounds.

“If possible, the current organisations should minimise the number of clubs which are affiliated. This would possibly then decrease the number of practises and games played. The fields would then see less use and be in a better condition,” he says.

Lawrence also says the CTSA struggles to organise sustainable events at the stadium because the stadium itself houses the offices of some City staff.

“If you look at the top level of the stadium, 80% is taken up by City offices. We can’t do anything. We cannot run a tournament because we don’t have the office space.

“They have just taken over the place and we need them gone, because we want our stadium back. Since the place has been built, there has been an agreement. You go to Turfhall any time of the day, you don’t see City staff. The two people who are working on those fields, we managed to get from the expanded public works programme,” he says.

Despite the fields being in this poor condition, they have also had to mark and put lines on the fields themselves, which he alleges is the responsibility of the City.

“The irony is that they [the City] are sitting right there; the area manager and the facility manager sit right there in the offices in the stadium. We had 29 bulbs out on the two fields and we had to beg to have it fixed. At the start of the season there were 50 bulbs out. They fixed it, but they said that there was no maintenance plan on those floodlights since 2011 (since the JWSC). The A field got new lights in 2011 and the B field got the old lights from the A field, but that was before the world championship. Since then there has been no maintenance,” Lawrence says.

Meanwhile, Ntsodo points out that the stricter water restrictions imposed have scuppered plans for the City to properly restore all playing surfaces.

“The reinstatement of the A field was done about two months ago and the field still needs to bind. Further reinstatements of the other fields were planned, but unfortunately this had to be put on hold because of Level 3 water restrictions. There was also an appeal which affected the mowing contract, thus in the meantime we have done our best to cut the fields internally,” says Ntsodo.

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