Lovers of soccer, players, officials and teams can look forward the pleasure of being in their own Stadium, as a new facility begins to take shape in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere.
Mangere United Football and NZ Fiji AFC Clubs are promoting the ambitious project, fulfilling the long cherished dream of a facility that could be called their own.
The Stadium is being built at the Mangere Centre Park site at 101 Robertson Road. It is estimated to cost $ 2 million, of which $1.44 million has reportedly been pledged already.
A groundbreaking ceremony held at the Centre Park on June 12 set the pace for the construction of the facility. The well-attended ceremony included traditional Maori blessing of the site and a traditional Fijian welcome.
The historic day augured well with the opening of the FIFA World Cup and Mangere United’s 2-1 win over Fencibles in the Lotto Northern Regional League Game.
Project Chairman Mohammed Imran said the Mangere United Football and NZ Fiji AFC Clubs were operating from tents and tree shades for the past five years and that a well-appointed stadium will help the two clubs foster greater professionalism in soccer.
“We hope that the new facilities will be available before the start of the 2001 soccer season. The Stadium, incorporating a multi-purpose Community Sports Complex, will also comprise, at the lower level, four changing rooms, referees rooms, a technical centre, cafeteria and rest rooms.
“The upper level will contain a board room, kitchen, lounge and other facilities,” he said.
Project Deputy Chairman Iliyas Daud said the lounge will overlook a balcony with an enclosure and 600 seating capacity and a grandstand.
“Construction of the first stage of the Complex will commence this month and will also account for car parks and storage areas. The ensuing stages of seating, lighting, fencing and embankment development will begin as soon the necessary funds are raised,” he said.
“I appreciate the cooperation and support extended by the members of the Association for this project. I laud their vision. The Stadium will become a landmark,” he said, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Labour MP William Sio, Mangere Community Board members, notary publicans, Manukau City Council staff, past and present members of Mangere United FC and NZ Fiji AFC and business associates from the Fijian community were among those who participated in the ceremony.
Mr Imran said, apart from the excitement of the Project, everyone involved was keen to compete the facility as soon as possible.
“We appreciate the efforts and patronage of those in NZ Fiji AFC who established the Center Park as the base and those in Mangere United who formed the Club,” he said.
He acknowledged the patronage of local businessman Shail Shah, the Mangere Community Board, ASB Community Trust, NZ Community Trust in promoting the project.
“Today as Fijians, we should hold our heads high to be the first anywhere outside Fiji to take on the challenge of building such a facility. This represents our desire to be as one and the leadership expected from migrant communities for the betterment of New Zealand. Football is our passion,” he said.
As a part of its efforts to mobilise the requisite finance, the Project Management Committee has organised a Walkathon on August 7.
The Walkathon hopes to raise $150,000.
Further details can be obtained from Mohammed Imran on 021-917702 or Iliyas Daud on 021-679514. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-With reporting by Mohammed Imran