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09 December 2011

Namboole Stadium revamp almost done

NAMBOLE sports complex was a year ago in a terrible state. Police service men who had earlier stayed at the complex had vandalized it. Several sections of the 14 year facility had also started giving way to wear and tare. A $3m (sh7bn) Chinese grant has however given the stadium a major facelift. The main athletics track has been resealed and marked. Tartan has also been laid on the training track that was previously tarmacked.

A new scoreboard that is not only cheaper but also multi-purpose has been fitted. A better public address system has been fixed; security lighting outside the stadium has also been repaired. Stadium finance manager Francis Ikotot said repairs will be completed this month. The football pitch will thereafter be mowed for the Eco Bank Super League and the national team’s Nations Cup preparations. Ikotot explained that the $1m (sh2.3bn) scoreboard operates on the modern Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. He said the new technology will tremendously cut electricity costs.

It would previously cost sh0.7m to use the scoreboard for a match. This will be cut to about sh0.3m. The scoreboard can now also serve as a giant television screen. Namboole plans to maximally use it by also screening competitions like the English Premiership. Namboole has projected an increase in business resulting from the repairs. “It is from funds from this boost that we shall get better maintenance,” said Ikotot. In a bid to maintain standards, activity will be limited in the facility. Football teams will only use the ground for matches.

Most sports facilities in the country have deteriorated because of poor maintenance. NRM bi-elections last year also left the pitch in a sorry state. Nakivubo War Memorial stadium’s pitch is in a bad state. Swaziland football side Mbabane Highlanders who played Victors in the CAF Confederations Cup at the ground on Friday could not believe its state. Namboole was built with a grant of $36m (sh82.b) from the People’s Republic of China. Originally it was called Namboole Stadium, getting its name from the name of the hill on which it was built. It is now officially called Nelson Mandela Stadium though locals still call it Namboole. It was opened in 1997.