THREE middle aged women emerge from a section of AmaZulu Sports Club holding pieces of firewood bundled together and make their way to the exit gate of the sports facility.
They walk in the direction of the nearest homes in Paddonhurst suburb in Bulawayo where the firewood will likely be used for household purposes such as cooking.
The sports facility where the women gathered the pieces of firewood is none other than the training ground that was used by the now defunct AmaZulu Football Club.
Once a powerhouse in local football, boasting of yesteryear stars such as Ronald ‘Gidiza’ Sibanda, Muzondiwa Mugadza, Voster Chitema, Herbert Dick and many others, AmaZulu FC dissolved in 2005.
The ‘death’ of AmaZulu FC brought about the inevitable demise of the facility, which was also commonly referred to as Callies Sports Club.
More than a decade after AmaZulu FC went under, the sports club situated along Robert Mugabe Way is in a deplorable state.
Overgrown grass, a dilapidated clubhouse that desperately needs a fresh coat of paint and renovations, a disused cycling track and trees that have grown on the property, which are now providing firewood for nearby residents, is what is left of the sports facility.
What was a once a model sports facility that was home to football, cycling and bowling is now a white elephant that has lost its former glory.
“I have so much fond memories of AmaZulu Sports Club. We were one of the few teams that had a clubhouse at that time and the club bosses (AmaZulu FC) led by Delma Lupepe made sure the place was always well kept,” said former AmaZulu FC defender Herbert Dick. Dick, an ex-Warriors player, says his heart bleeds when he drives past the facility.
“It hurts to see how bad the place looks now compared to the days when we used it as our training ground.
“Training there always made us feel that we were part of a professional team that strove to emulate great clubs such as Real Madrid or Manchester United,” he said.
Dick was part of the AmaZulu FC side that won the championship in 2003. The sports facility is now home to social soccer teams.
In 2018, the Bulawayo City Council put AmaZulu Sports Club to tender after the local municipality resolved to repossess the facility following failure by the tenants to service it.
According to council minutes, the club was failing to service its account and the facility was always in a bad state such that the building was dilapidated due to a lack of maintenance.
The council minutes state that on April 1, 1961, the city council resolved to lease stand 1622 B.T to Bulawayo City Bowling Club for a period of 25 years. The first 25 years expired in 1986, while the second automatic 25 years expired in 2011.
AmaZulu then applied to inherit the lease on renewal. Council on March 7, 2012, then renewed the lease for a further 10 years and the lease is due to expire in 2022.
However, a number of breaches have been observed by the city council.