Johannesburg - Once a feared fortress of Arcadia Shepherds, Pretoria Caledonian Stadium is now a dilapidated, neglected structure.
But not for long if former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates defender Mark Fish has his way.
The Mark Fish Foundation is inviting stakeholders, volunteers and sponsors to join in a clean-up campaign that will be held at the venue on Sunday (November 5) starting at 08:00.
The stadium is part of the CBD for which the Tshwane council has approved an Integrated Development Plan with a budget of R32 million for this financial year but, according to Fish’s foundation, “the council is silent on progress.
“A month ago, I staged a soccer tournament at the Caledonian Stadium and was appalled at the state of the venue,” Fish told City Press on Friday.
“This is a ground that played a huge role in my career as a young boy from Sunnyside. It has a lovely history in South African football.
“My aim is to take it back to being an iconic site in the Pretoria CBD, lift it to a standard where even PSL [Premier Soccer League] matches are played.
“I think with the history the Caledonian has, it can easily rise up again to become an international venue.
“So the idea is to start with the clean-up campaign after which we will start raising funds to revive it so that it meets international standards".
One of the first steps Fish’s foundation has taken will be a city centre programme that will start in January. This follows after successfully negotiating a sublease agreement with Arcadia Shepherds FC.
With the help of volunteers and sponsors, the foundation aims to run a programme to reach out to the homeless, orphaned and deprived children and young adults of the Pretoria CBD, Arcadia and Sunnyside through football.
The Caledonian, which was once the home ground of many great South African footballers such as Vincent “Tantie” Julius, Calvin Klein, Deshi Bhaktawer, the three Wegerle brothers Geoff, Roy and Steve, still provides countless inner-city children and young adults with a place to come together and share in the camaraderie that sports provides.
Fish started his career there as a striker for Shepherds before being snatched by Jomo Cosmos where Roy Matthews converted him into a central defender.
He joined Orlando Pirates and was a member of the league-winning squad of 1994, the African Club Championship in 1995 and the African Super Cup.
Fish was a member of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning Bafana Bafana squad.
He also played for Lazio in Italy before moving to England where he played for Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletics and a short loan spell at Ipswich Town.
Those willing to help can contact Fish on 082 448 7667 or Lourika Vlietstra on 083 632 7223. Follow the Mark Fish Foundation on Twitter @mffounda or Facebook at MarkFishFoundation.