One of the country’s oldest grounds, BAT football ground, will be upgraded to a 20 000-seater stadium in a project Malawi National Council of Sports says will help ease shortage of TNM Super League match venues in Blantyre.
Work on the facility, dubbed Malawi’s soccer mecca, already started with construction of a perimeter fence.
Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said: “As earlier indicated, we would like to concentrate on infrastructure development. We have been slowly working on BAT because of resources.
“The first phase, which we thought was important, was to complete the perimeter fence, tickets sale booths and guards rooms.
“The idea is that we wanted to secure the demarcation of our land by following our beacons. You might have noted that some people encroached on our land there.”
After completing the first phase, Sports Council is now looking for funds to start the second phase.
“Now we are comfortable with the size of the land that we have so that we can proceed with phase two which is the facility’s upgrade.
“This will involve the renovations of the actual ground. The idea is to reorient the pitch.
“Now that we have more land, we can increase the capacity from about 3 000 to 20 000,” said Mereka.
Meanwhile, Sports Council is also renovating another of its sports facilities, the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
The first phase, which started last November, involves netball and volleyball courts’ renovations while in the second phase, Sport Council is renovating lawn tennis court and basketball court.
Mereka said they plan to complete the renovations by next month.
He said: “We had issues with the netball court so we thought of renovating it and we have also renovated the volleyball court.
“Now we are working on the lawn tennis court. They have worked on much of it and we hope they will be through soon.
“After all these renovations, we will be remaining with the football pitch. We still have more to do at the BYC because we also would like to build changing rooms for all these courts once funds are available.”
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda applauded the renovation of the facilities, saying they will go a long way in developing sports in the country.
“The BAT and BYC have produced some of the greatest sports personalities in the country. These facilities should have been upgraded long time ago. The BAT has hosted some historic matches when even Super League games were played there.
“But it was neglected for a very long time. Now that Sports Council has decided to have the venue face lifted, it is commendable. Hopefully, it will reclaim its lost glory by starting to host high profile matches there.”
The BAT currently hosts Southern Region Football Association premier and division one matches. The BYC usually hosts youth sports activities, Southern Region Netball League, volleyball, lawn tennis and basketball matches.