WHILE soccer players run, tackle and score goals at Bulawayo’s Barbourfields Stadium almost every weekend, it would appear equipment meant to record their goal scoring exploits is often on holiday.
Yes. The scoreboard at Barbourfields Stadium has put in fewer shift hours than many other such equipment the world over, disappointing those that sometimes attend soccer matches late and have no reference point in terms of the scoreline.
Highlanders FC, Chicken Inn, Bulawayo Chiefs and TelOne FC use the biggest stadium in Bulawayo as their home ground. Interestingly, the scoreboard only works when the Bulawayo sides play Harare giants Caps United and Dynamos. That is because the home sides have to hire a person to manually update the scoreboard when they play big teams.
“When we play host to Dynamos or Caps United we hire our own person to operate the scoreboard. We pay him RTGS$20 or RTGS$30 for the entire match,” said a club official from one of the home teams.
He finds this absurd because they pay to use the facility.
“We pay Bulawayo City Council 20 percent from gate takings yet we have to fork out an extra cost of either RTGS$20 or RTGS$30 for the scoreboard. We do so to keep our relations with the local authority intact. A digital scoreboard should help our players keep track of time,” he said.
Another local football official said he thought that once they hired the venue, the scoreboard was also covered.
“When we hire the facility we assume we would have paid for everything. We get surprised and shocked when the local authority asks us to hire a person to operate the scoreboard,” he said.
From gate takings the breakdown on payment is 20 percent for Bulawayo City Council while the Sports and Recreation Commission, Premier Soccer League and Zifa each get six percent.
For big matches at least 80 police officers paid per hour and according to rank are required.
Efforts to get a comment from Bulawayo City Council senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu on the issue of the scoreboard were fruitless. She did not respond to emailed questions but acknowledged receiving them.
PSL’s chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele said scoreboard issues were part of the bigger problems they faced with stadiums countrywide.
“Barbourfields Stadium’s scoreboard is owned by the city council. There are bigger problems that we face at various local stadia like poor playing surface, non-functional ablution facilities and lack of electricity among many,” said Ndebele.