I visited the venue on the same day and spent at least two hours watching schoolchildren doing what they know best on the track.
I happened to be the odd-one-out as all the participants, officials and supporters were clad in Nestle T-shirts which determined their categories.
Harare province had an upper hand in terms of the 12th man as most local schools released their pupils to go and support their mates at the national event.
The echoes of children ululating and whistling by teachers and other officials were the order of the day.
I would like to applaud the effort that has been made by Nestle Zimbabwe into partnering primary school athletics programmes in a sponsorship deal that is set to run for three years.
The main idea behind the marriage between the two is to develop athletics and other physical education sport at grassroots level.
A representative from Nestle said the company took over the sponsorship of the event and they were meeting all expenses and logistics to do with the tournaments.
The company had initially budgeted US$80 000 for hosting the event but later revised the budget upward to US$100 000.
The company met the transport costs for all the 10 provinces before meeting the food and accommodation expenses for more than 750 participants and 160 officials.
Nestle made arrangements with schools in Warren Park to be used as villages for the participants, who got their breakfast and dinner at these places, but had to be provided with packed lunches at the races venue in the afternoon.
Despite that, this is the first time Nestle is partnering primary school athletics and it is a highly commendable move. There were a lot of prizes that the pupils won, including medals for the top three in each category.
Nestle went on to unveil prizes for athletes who broke national records, in junior categories, only to find that the country did not have standing records for these categories. As a result Naph in partnership with Nestle have come up with a new data base which will see athletes who are going to break this year’s records next year getting these prizes.
The move exposed our national athletics association, which has for the past years failed to come up with a data base that has such crucial information.
The outstanding province in athletics got a big trophy and US$5 000 prize money cash while the second got a medium trophy and US$3 000 with the third province getting a smaller trophy and US$2 000.
All the other provinces got US$1 000 as participation fees.
The same applied to Physical Education, which also saw the leading province getting a big trophy and US$5 000, with the second getting a medium trophy and US$3 000 with the third getting a small trophy and US$2 000. All other provinces also got US$1 000 for participation.
Apart from this sponsorship package, upon arriving in the capital ahead of the event, all the provinces were handed US$2 000 cash while Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North, which are farther away, were given US$3 000 each.
I, therefore, call upon the corporate world to join the sports sponsorship bandwagon so that we can keep our children away from trouble and help in nurturing talent for the future. Well done Nestle, may that relationship last.
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