Independent sportsview By Darlington Majonga
IT’S another Friday and tonight thousands of revellers might be heading to Chitungwiza to sweat out their sorrows when the self-proclaimed sungura king, Alick Macheso, unleashes his “raz
or wire” in the sprawling dormitory town.
Venue? Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex.
Wait a minute. It’s not funny anymore! It’s disheartening when the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex is now famous for concerts than for its original purpose.
That golden girl Kirsty Coventry has just done it again, in Montreal, and we wonder how she would feel if anyone had taken seriously proposals to rename the complex after her.
And if anyone hadn’t taken seriously the suggestion to honour the 22-year-old by renaming the aquatics centre the Kirsty Coventry Complex, we wonder what her latest feats on the international scene deserve.
Coventry struck gold in the 100m backstroke on Tuesday at the Fina World Championships, just a day after grabbing a silver medal in the 200m individual medley event.
From Olympic star, Coventry is now a world champion. We just wonder what the country will do for her.
It’s hardly a year when the euphoria created by Coventry’s Olympic feat — when she scooped gold, silver and bronze at the Athens Games last August — engulfed the whole of Zimbabwe that we thought a swimming revolution was upon us.
We had those ingenious among us suggesting re-christening their children Kirsty Banda, Goldmedal Mbambo, Coventry Mwale, Athens Chimbambaira, Backstroke Hondo, Medley Jones, Freestyle Adams, Bronze Magede and Silver Moyo.
Of course some still misspell the pool queen’s name as “Kirtsy”, but at least even those among us whose only contact with water is when they drink the precious liquid know who Kirsty Coventry is.
Thousands of greenbacks were splashed on the golden girl, while she was given a diplomatic passport among many other tokens of appreciation for her unprecedented exploits in the pool.
For her latest success, Coventry might get a stand at Whitecliff Farm if all those chefs have not surrendered the extra farms because one would have done for the golden girl. But whatever way we might suggest to reward Coventry, all the material things might really mean nothing to her. Not that she is comfortable already in the United States where she stays, but we owe her big time.
Beyond a few individuals such as Coventry, swimming is almost non-existent in Zimbabwe. We are doing Coventry a great disservice if we don’t revolutionise the sport.
Though still viewed as a preserve of the white community, Coventry’s exploits should surely inspire even Muchaneta Mbombera or Tambudzai Zvichapera to take to the pool.
Among those to celebrate Coventry’s latest success will be none other than Peter Dulzell, the president of the Aquatics Association of Zimbabwe, and a few who still have the sport at heart.
But they should ask themselves if they are doing enough to develop swimming and spreading the sport even to Manjonjo in Murewa, where children from Madziwa or Chiwara villages think swimming doesn’t go beyond the “mubhagu” they normally enjoy when they go to Nyaguwe River for a bath.
We won’t be surprised to see Sports minister Aeneas Chigwedere drooling over his goatee, rambling over how Zimbabwe is proud of Coventry. But he should do that with a deep guilt conscience, for here is the man who has done absolutely nothing to improve swimming if he has not in fact overseen the demise of sport in general.
No amount of bootlicking and grandstanding over Coventry’s exploits will mask the failure by the government to articulate a clear policy on sports development. Our leaders have utterly failed to lay a foundation to revolutionise sport in Zimbabwe.
The corporate world won’t be left out if what we witnessed following Coventry’s Athens glory is anything to go by. Adverts inserted in virtually all newspapers and those flighted on television and radio stations by the corporate world “proud to be associated with Kirsty Coventry” were amazing.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but the excitement just exposed the corporate world’s double standards. It’s not only in swimming, so don’t be surprised to witness another bout of congratulatory commercials should the Warriors qualify for the African Nations Cup.
Why is it sponsors want to be seen when the likes of Coventry make it, but don’t want to be associated with the upbringing or nurturing of such talent? Crazy, isn’t it, but you will be told they don’t trust some administrators within such and such a sport as if the culprits are untouchables.
Otherwise we are greatly indebted to the likes of Kirsty Coventry. And we’ve no iota of doubt that she would not be proud to have the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex named after her in its dilapidated state.
We are not even surprised at all that those managing — or damaging — the complex don’t even recall the last time a major tournament was hosted there. It’s as nauseating as the algae that now swathe the once world-class facilities.
The mess is so repugnant that we wonder why the infamous Operation Murambatsvina spared the complex where we are told the “holy waters” are coldest at the bar that’s keeping the place open when there’s no Macheso or some beauty pageants taking place.
Activities that can be carried out at the complex include swimming, water polo, synchronised swimming and a various host of other water activities. Then there is the 10 000-seater hall that can be used for other indoor sporting disciplines.
But none of those disciplines are taking place at the complex, with Zeria and Ruvarashe pre-schools as well as Divanet College and Chisipite Bar now the major tenants at the giant sports centre.
The green festering body of water at the complex in no lesser terms depicts the real horror story not only of aquatic sports, but the whole sporting fraternity.
It would be folly for anyone in his right senses to be blinded by Coventry’s feats that we ignore the reality in our sport.