The City of Cape Town and SAFA will work together to manage the various playing fields and ensure that they are used in a manner that mitigates further damage as a result of the drought. Read more below:
Cape Town is currently experiencing a serious drought and there is absolutely no option of irrigating fields with potable water, even in exceptional circumstances. The City and the South African Football Association (SAFA) have met to discuss how to manage the upcoming soccer season during this time of drought crisis, where the majority of the city’s sports fields have not been irrigated for months. Both the City and SAFA agree that it is not possible for the soccer season to continue as per usual.
The City has over 500 sports fields and 50% of these fields are in a state of considerable distress.
‘The situation calls for active management by both the City and SAFA in order to preserve our sports fields,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Assets and Facilities Management, Councillor Stuart Diamond.
‘Although these are certainly trying times, SAFA is positive that the good working relationship we enjoy with the City will ensure the best possible outcome for the coming soccer season. Without this partnership with the City, we would not be able to adequately respond to the impact that the current drought is having on our playing fields,’ said SAFA Cape Town’s project leader for facilities, Bennett Bailey.‘I want to thank SAFA for their willingness to proactively tackle the impending crisis we are experiencing at our grass fields. A triage system has been developed in order to categorise field conditions by assigning a red, amber, or green status to each on a weekly basis. These categories have corresponding usage conditions, where play on some fields will be suspended immediately and limited to two or three hours per week on others,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
The City’s Recreation and Parks Department and SAFA have formed a task team to continually monitor field conditions and usage for the coming soccer season and ensure certain provisions are taken to enable special events in the soccer calendar to take place. SAFA will assist the City in mapping out where alternative water sources exist and where resources are to be prioritised to ensure that as far as possible, the soccer season can continue.
As part of this effort, Councillor Diamond has reiterated the City’s commitment to improving the Athlone Stadium in order to provide a top-class facility for the local clubs, community and broader soccer community.
The City is mindful of the effects of climate change and so with longer-term thinking in mind has already invested in 29 synthetic pitches. These pitches don’t require water for irrigation and unlike a grass field, they can withstand unlimited hours of play.