By Duncan Mlanjira
One of Africa’s top football clubs, Côte d’Ivoire’s FC San Pedro are on the verge of completing the construction of a state-the-art training centre based in Brofodoumé on an area of 22 hectares.
The centre has 4 playing fields, three of them are natural grass and one with a synthetic lawn.
“There is a stadium with grandstand that can accommodate 2,500 to 3,000 spectators,” said Ghanaian journalist Nuhu Adams, writing on the African Football Writers Forum.
“There is a 50-meter swimming pool, basketball, tennis, volleyball, handball courts and accommodations that can accommodate four teams of about 30 people in parallel.
“The aim is to be one of the best and biggest training centers in Africa. This is an African club with focus, plan and ambition,” Adams said.
FC San-Pédro, founded in 2004, is based in San-Pédro and were 3rd place in Côte d’Ivoire’ 2017/18 Premier Division season.
They are participating in the 2019-20 Total CAF Confederation Cup and just on November 3 they made one of the biggest upset by beating Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko 2-0 in Abidjan.
A report on CAFonline.com says San Pedro produced one of the memorable CAF Confederation Cup comebacks, overturning their away first leg 1-0 defeat to reach the group stage.
In the first leg a week earlier, San Pedro conceded a deep injury time goal from the spot, but they proved strong to take home advantage and go to the mini league stage.
While Kotoko were left ruing their missed chances as the former African Champions missed yet again a place in the lucrative group stage, said the report.
Cheick Soumaro gave the hosts a very early lead after just three minutes to equalize the aggregate clash score at 1-1.
The opening half witnessed no more goals as things were left to be decided in the second stanza.
And while the game looked on its way to a shootout to decide the aggregate winner, Tidjae Diomande scored the all-important winner for the Ivoirians five minutes from time to send San Pedro to the group stage.
Kotoko finished the game with 10 men after seeing the red card shown to Agyemang Badu just before time.
San Pedro join Pyramids, El Masry (Egypt), Enyimba, Rangers (Nigeria), RS Berkane, HUSA (Morocco), Nouadhibou (Mauriania), Horoya (Guinea), Zanaco (Zambia), El Nasr (Libya), Djoliba (Mali), Motema Pembe (DR Congo), Bidvest Wits (South Africa) and Paradou (Algeria) for the group stages.
While San Pedro are executing this ambitious projects, Malawi’s two clubs, Mighty Be Forward Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets, are waiting for the construction of their own stadia which President Arthur Peter Mutharika pledged to do as his pre-election campaign.
Parliament already approved allocation of the budgetary vote of K1.6 billion for construction of the two stadia but the decision by government was met with condemnation by the public’s civil society organisation.
ThE CSOs believe the two teams are private entities and should fund their own infrastructure development, saying that money can be put to proper use for the taxpayers like in the health, education and other deserving sectors.
Concerned grouping, Citizens of Progressive Action, have prepared a petition that is demanding the government to rescind its decision to built stadia.
At a press briefing the grouping’s Chief Operations Strategist, Pemphero Mphande said they were appalled that even the opposition Members of Parliament approved the stadia construction vote yet there was a public outcry against this decision using public funds long before it was tabled in Parliament.
He had also said when President Mutharika made the pledge everyone thought it would come from his pocket or from his Democratic Progressive Party.
“We added a voice of civil rights organizations and many members of the public who were against this decision before it even was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Honorable Joseph Mwanamveka.
“We thought the opposition MPs was to take our side and oppose the vote but to our dismay, the budget was passed.
“Our take is that the government should not use public money to fund private institutions. We are saying that money can be put to proper use for the taxpayers like in the health, education and other deserving sectors.”
Though the budget was already passed, Mphande said they will still engage the government and the MPs and that’s why they have prepared the petition.
“It could have made sense for government to fund football in particular and sports in general using public funds through sponsoring national events that can benefit everyone across the board, not for two privately owned football clubs.
“How about the other teams that these two clubs compete with at national level? Don’t such teams also deserve their own infrastructure?”
The decision to construct the two stadia was also met with strong condemnation by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) as well as the general public through social media before it was tabled in Parliament.