New home get thumbs up from Safa

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Safa Midlands region president Eric Mntshatsha has praised the Umgungundlovu district for making the football governing body one of the main beneficiaries of the new stadium that will be built in Pietermaritzburg.

The construction of the new stadium on the site of Harry Gwala stadium will start next month and is expected to be completed in September next year.

Demolition of the old 13000 seater stadium started yesterday. The municipality is hoping that participating countries will use the new state-of-the-art venue as a training venue for the 2010 World Cup.

The capacity of the new stadium will be 20000, which will also enable home team Maritzburg United to host big matches against the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns. Such matches were previously played at Chatsworth in Durban.

The new stadium includes Safa offices, a conference centre, 14 hospitality boxes, a drainage and irrigation system, and change rooms for players and officials conforming to Fifa standards.

Mntshatsha said for the first time in KwaZulu-Natal, the football governing body will have offices in a state-of-the-art stadium. He said this would give a new meaning to soccer development in the region.

"What the municipality has done here is wonderful. As provincial council, we will not find ourselves wanting whenever we want to hold meetings or conferences," Mntshatsha said.

"They have demonstrated that they have the love of football deve- lopment at heart. This is not only going to benefit professional clubs, but amateur soccer will also develop and we appreciate that."

MEC for local government Mike Mabuyakhulu said yesterday's occasion was the affirmation of their commitment as the provincial government to making the 2010 World Cup not just a runaway success, but to ensuring that it leaves a lasting and permanent legacy.

"What makes this spectacle important for us is that it will be held on African shores for the first time in the 101 years of Fifa's existence. Thirty-two billion people worldwide will watch this event," said Mabuyakhulu.