…as untended national stadium dilapidates despite last year upgrades
The National 20 000-seater multipurpose Setsoto stadium is quickly turning into a white elephant as it lays untended gathering moss and getting overgrown with weeds despite a track upgrade last year.
The stadium which was condemned by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) to hosting any FIFA fixtures, was last used in December 2021 during the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 games.
The national stadium was partly refurbished for the regional games with an allocated budget of M215 million that was approved by the parliament in May 2021.
The Stadium was condemned for poor playing turf, change rooms and sanitation facilities. However, those were not attended to during the refurbishment but only the tartan track and other minor face lifts with the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation (MGYSR) saying there was not enough time for other things and that those would be attended to in January 2022.
However, March is here and the stadium has been closed with no one allowed to use it since the AUSC Region 5 Games. No premier league games are played at the stadium, no athletes are allowed to train with most in preparation for the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 and the senior national soccer team Likuena has been scheduled to host their home game in South Africa at the Dobsonville stadium against Seychelles in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 qualifiers preliminaries this month.
During the upgrades for the AUSC games, the Local Organising Committee had said facilities which were to be renovated included the installation of a new turf but according to the ministry’s Media Officer Maqalika Matsepe, that is no longer the case as there are no funds.
“There is no money for the upgrades to have taken place as planned in January because things did no go accordingly. The funds which were allocated turned out to not be enough,” Matsepe said, adding that process the of paying service providers from the AUSC games had taken a lot of money.
Matsepe further indicated that the stadium will still be attended to in due time after all the payments to the suppliers and service providers have been made.
Meanwhile, the ministry has been budgeted MIn the meantime, the ministry is awaiting funds to be allocated in the hope that the budget speech would give some positive news.
“The stadium is not abandoned, it is our responsibility as the ministry to see to it that it is back and fully operational at international standards. The refurbishment will definitely continue once all payments have been made and hopefully there will be some money left,” he said.
While the ministry is focusing on payments of service providers and waiting for funds, the facility is dilapidating and could soon become like some of the sports facilities in the country such as the Leshoboro Sports Complex in Mafeteng which was built prior to the COSAFA under-20 Championships in 2014 as well as the Rapokolana Multi-sports complex.