Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE closure of the giant steel company, Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) had a negative impact on the sport industry in Kwekwe, particularly Redcliff and Torwood as the drying up of funds led to the neglect of sporting facilities.
The steel mining and manufacturing company established and maintained some of the finest sporting facilities in the country at Redcliff and Torwood.
Facilities at Redcliffe, a low density area, were mostly for the “elite” who preferred cricket, basketball, tennis, rugby and bowling, while Torwood, where the majority of people who worked at Zisco resided, had football, athletics, cycling, tennis and netball amenities.
These facilities were highly maintained, with workers levied various amounts from their salaries for the upkeep of the recreational facilities.
Football legend, Benedict “Grinder” Moyo, recalls the yesteryear top facilities that many yearned to use.
The facilities used to host the Chamber of Mines competitions, a premier sporting contest that drew the country’s mines such as Wankie now known as Hwange, Shabanie-Mashava, Mhangura and Rio Tinto among others.
But after the closure of Zisco more than a decade ago, the facilities that had lush green, well-cut grass have turned into an eyesore, they are derelict.
Aaron Chinhara, the Glow Petroleum proprietor who has a passion for netball gave a facelift to KKE Kuhn Tennis Centre in Torwood, resurfacing it so that Netball Super League games could be played at the facility.
“At the peak of Zisco, all sporting disciplines were covered. It was contractual for any employee that they should participate and contribute towards maintenance of facilities. At managerial level we used to pay $5 which was powerful and lower guys paid $2.
The company ran beer halls and that generated money to fund athletics, football and rugby.
“Now everything is gone, the facilities are in a sorry state. Credit to Chinhara of Glow Petroleum for resurfacing courts at KKE Kuhn Tennis Centre which has become home to Netball Super League and the community gets to watch some competitive games,” said Moyo during a tour of Torwood and Redcliff.
In its heyday, Ziscosteel FC, relegated from the Premiership in 1999 used to provide entertainment to the locals, but now it is netball that draws crowds.
The KKE Kuhn Tennis Club is at the west of Torwood Stadium, a multi-sport facility that has an athletics track and cycling track. Besides the two green and maroon resurfaced courts, a dilapidated building has been turned into a dwelling for a family that can’t afford rentals in the area.
About 400m from the tennis centre, Moyo took us to a thicket that used to be training grounds for Ziscosteel FC.
“We used to water these training fields and we used to call them Umchenga Training Fields. Umchenga because of the slag that forms the foundation. Many of us, yesteryear footballers were born out of these two fields.
We never used to train in the main stadium for more than two days. From Monday to Thursday we trained here,” said Moyo, pointing to the two former training bases which are next to Kwekwe River.
“Even when we won the Castle Cup in 1978 we were training here. We could have won the 1977 Super League while training here but that year in June, as we were at the top of the table and Dynamos bottom the league disbanded while we were training here at Umchenga.
“To us, this is really the history where we came from,” said Moyo.
James Takavada, the 1994 Soccer Star of the Year, Moyo, Ephraim Dzimbiri, Njabulo Zulu, Tobias Moyo, Victor Dhliwayo, Frank M’kanga and Richard Manda, who all had a dance with the national team while turning out for Ziscosteel carved their skills at the now Umchenga thicket which is south of Torwood Stadium.
The home of Ziscosteel, Torwood Stadium, is now in ruins. There are patches of dried grass, with the stands and dressing rooms disintegrated.
The sorry state of Torwood is the same with Zisco Club in Redcliff where the bowling field has been left neglected. Grass had grown in basketball and tennis courts at the former top-end facility.
Social soccer teams have turned to the rugby ground for their games, while the cricket ground has been deserted.
Moyo expressed sadness at the state of sporting facilities in Redcliff and Torwood.
“To think that this area used to be home to at least four national team coaches of different sporting disciplines and now the facilities that produced athletes and coaches are dead. At one time Zisco had a national coach for football being me, national coach for athletics Patson Muteredzi, wrestling Bonde, tennis coach George Cheza and rugby’s Chunky Lewis. These facilities that hold so much history are gone and I wonder if they will ever be resuscitated.
“It’s painful and I’m praying and hoping that if Zisco comes back on line they will employ people knowledgeable in sport. Sport is now business, but back then sport was recreational.
Now we need people who are in sports with business acumen, who’ve done sports management and who appreciate sport to uplift this place.
“It might not happen now, or soon, but we still trust that one day, someone will see the value in resuscitating these facilities,” said Moyo.
Article Source: The Chronicle