Despite Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Henry Mussa’s announcement that Kamuzu Stadium artificial turf will be replaced with natural grass, the ministry has said a decision on the way forward will be made by technical experts.
During the commemoration of the International Labour Day at Kamuzu Upper Stadium on Monday, the minister stated that the natural grass will be grown so that the pitch can start hosting TNM Super League matches within a month as a way of fulfilling President Peter Mutharika’s order to renovate the facility.
Ministry spokesperson Simon Mbvundula told The Nation yesterday that the minister has now set up a team of technical experts, which will make a final declaration on the same.
He said the team will meet stakeholders such as Football Association of Malawi (FAM) this weekend to strategise on the best action to be taken to ensure that the pitch becomes playable during the current season.
“The minister will wait for the team’s findings to decide whether the artificial turf should be immediately removed and replaced with natural grass,” Mbvundula said.
“The team is expected to make consultations with stakeholders this week and report back its findings to the minister so that the repairs should start at the stadium. They will find most viable means for the venue to commence hosting football matches within the shortest period possible.”
He, however, said after the report is presented to the minister, the stadium will remain closed for at least two weeks before the works begin.
When The Nation wanted Mussa’s take on the tachnical team yesterday, he promised to call back but he had not at press time.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and general secretary Alfred Gunda could not be reached for comment yesterday.
But Nyamilandu was quoted in The Nation of Tuesday as welcoming Mutharika’s order to repair the facility.
“The most important thing is that the stadium must be attended to and if there is commitment from government, the President in particular, then, we will oblige. I believe it [the commitment] is being done for the good of the game and we have no problems.”
Meanwhile, Blantyre-based soccer lovers led by Nyasa Big Bullets supporters’ committee chairperson Stone Mwamadi said they met the minister on the sidelines of the Labour Day commemoration and asked him not to grow the natural grass until at the end of the season.
“He assured us [and my Be Forward Wanderers counterpart] that the stadium will host games this season but we pleaded with him to consider making some patch-ups on the artificial turf in the meantime and grow the natural grass during the off-season break. He understood us,” Mwamadi said.
The world football governing body Fifa condemned Kamuzu Stadium, saying it poses a security risk to human lives but Mutharika has reportedly ordered that the facility should not close but renovated to continue hosting matches. n