Pretoria – Opportunities for young people in sports have become a pipe dream, due to the poor condition of sports facilities in Tshwane, which continue to rot.
This is according to sports and development scouts, who lambasted the long history of negligence towards stadiums in the municipality.
While there is a glimmer of hope that the HM Pitje Stadium in Mamelodi can still be refurbished, the futures of the Odi, Caledonian, and PVM sports facilities appear bleak.
Odi Stadium in Mabopane has been reduced to ruins by vandals because of negligence.
The 60 000-seat stadium, which now probably has less capacity, looks dangerously close to collapse as the grandstands continue to deteriorate.
With no water and electricity, and gaping holes in its periphery, it continues to be ransacked due to a lack of security.
Rodents now run across the athletics tracks, and the field could easily be mistaken for a plantation, with untrimmed grass sprouting.
Residents said the stripping of the stadium had become a normal occurrence, with some thieves stealing items in daylight.
In 2005 the stadium was shut down for non-compliance with safety and construction regulations.
Siphati Chiloane, who lives close to the facility, said residents from surrounding informal settlements helped themselves to parts of the stadium's infrastructure, to use for the building of their homes.
“Ask anyone around here and they will tell you that when people need ceiling boards, taps and bricks, they shop for, or rather steal them, at the stadium,” she said.
In the city centre, the Caledonian Stadium shares the same fate, and continues on a downward spiral.
Arcadia Shepherds FC boss Lucky Manna said he was in limbo due to its condition, and had spoken to the municipality about it in March last year.
The strong and overpowering stench of human waste at the entrance is a testament to the neglect.
Door frames, grandstands, and ablution and kiosk facilities are missing. The facility was used as a shelter for the homeless during the early part of SA’s Covid-19 lockdown.
In 2014 the City of Tshwane approved the upgrading and transformation of the stadium, aimed at making it a theme park, and a service provider was appointed.
Due to budget constraints, the City rescinded the resolution and decided to rather upgrade the stadium to PSL standards.
Manna said his team was supposed to return to practice this week, but because of the poor state of the stadium, they had to look for another training ground.
He said he had been trying to contact the City for the last three weeks, to no avail. “There is no way parents will allow their children to play at that stadium, it's worse than a pigsty,” he said.
Also resembling a pigsty was the PVM Stadium in Mamelodi West. Located in the D6 section, not too far from the rundown Mamelodi Rondavels, the facility continues to rot.
Local rugby clubs including the Vodacom Blue Bulls used to train and scout for talent there.
According to Ndaba Molota, a sports development agent at Mamelodi Rugby Club, they had stopped using the grounds, which were now a haven for criminals.
“It's sad that the black child will never have a chance to showcase their raw talent here. Opportunities are bleak, which will, in turn, increase the crime rate,” he said.
Former soccer scout Ngulu Sibiya, who once spent his time looking for new talent at stadiums in Tshwane, said he was disgusted by the poor state of many sporting facilities around the city.
“Its simple, dilapidated sports facilities lead to boredom amongst the many unemployed youths, ultimately breeding dangerous criminals,” he said.
Regarding the Caledonian Stadium, Tshwane MMC for community and social Development, Thabisile Vilakazi, said a process had started to appoint a new team of consultants to review designs, and thereafter the City wanted to move towards construction.
“However, due to a contractor dispute, there is litigation. It should be noted that compliance with existing heritage aspects on site will be an important part of the project, as determined by the heritage assessment,” she said.
At the time of publication, there was still no response from the municipality regarding its plans for the Odi and PVM stadiums.