By Mabvuto Kambuwe
Malawi is racing against time to ensureall sports venues are in shape ahead of 2022 Africa Union Sports Council Region 5 Games slated for December 2-11 in Lilongwe.
Region 5 experts, who are in the country, inspected all the venues including Bingu National (BNS), Civo, Silver and Nankhaka stadiums, the Griffin Saenda Sports Complex and Aquatic Sports Complex that have been earmarked to host the event.
The delegation, which Region 5 Chief Executive Officer Stanley Mutoya is leading, includes Council of Southern Africa Football Association General Secretary Sue Destombes.
As part of the event, Malawi will host U-17 Cosafa Championship, which will be used as qualifiers for next year’s TotalErnegies Africa Youth Championship.
BNS has been earmarked to host the opening and closing ceremony of the event.
Civo and Silver stadiums are expected to host boys and girls football.
While briefing the officials from Malawi government which included Director of Sports in Ministry of Youth and Sports Jameson Ndalama, the experts said the two facilities need serious renovations to be certified fit to host the games.
For Civo, the experts noted that there was a need to fix floodlights and renovate dressing rooms and toilets.
On the part of Silver, the experts said there is a need to replace the current playing surface with a completely new one as it is bumpy and muddy.
Additionally, it was observed that the dressing rooms and toilets are also not in shape.
But Nankhaka Stadium has been completely removed from the list of the facilities to host the games as the perimeter fence is too close to the pitch.
For tennis, the experts observed that there are no existing facilities that can fulfill minimum requirements to host international matches.
After inspecting African Bible College Blue Gym and Civo Basketball Court, the experts recommended that there is a need to erect a roof at Civo court ahead of the games.
Briefing journalists Thursday, Mutoya said the aim of the tour was to confirm the venues.
“We have to ensure that all facilities are ready for the games in December. There are some facilities that need serious attention in some areas such as the playing field,” Mutoya said.
Local Organising Committee (Loc) and government has until September 30, 2020 to ensure all the facilities are in shape for the Games.
Loc CEO Emma Mavumbe said the country was on track towards hosting successful games.
“No need to panic, for the existing structures, we just need renovations. We just need to hold hands together and I am confident we will host the successful games,” she said.
Over 3,500 athletes and officials from the entire southern Africa will be in the country for the games.
Athletes will compete in netball, basketball, football, tennis, swimming and athletics.
Indoor Sports Complex will host netball and volleyball whereas BNS, apart from hosting the opening and closing ceremony, will host athletics.