ZIMBABWE’S failure to develop suitable sporting and recreational facilities around the country will come under the spotlight when the 15th edition of the Zimbabwe National Youth Games gets underway in Matabeleland North province today.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The rebranded national event, which will see a total of 2 598 athletes from the country’s 10 provinces battle it out in 22 sporting disciplines, was supposed to get underway on Thursday, but will now begin today with the official opening ceremony in Hwange.
However, while Matabeleland North are the hosting province, some of the sport codes — swimming, tennis, handball, hockey, shooting and cycling — had to be moved to Bulawayo because of the unavailability of facilities.
Sports and Recreation minister Makhosini Hlongwane admitted that there was need for the country to invest in sporting facilities in the country’s 10 provinces.
“A major issue that needs attention going forward maybe starting with the Midlands next year is that as government, we need to invest in infrastructural development in all the provinces across the country in as far as the hosting of the National Youth Games is concerned,” he said.
“Athletics comes out tops as far as the absence of adequate facilities is concerned.
“We need to invest in the development and construction of tartan tracks in all the 10 provinces so that athletics is done properly.”
The decision to host other sporting codes outside Matabeleland North comes after the Victoria Falls Combined Residents’ Association chairperson Kelvin Moyo also bemoaned the local authority’s inability to provide adequate sporting facilities.
“When you look at the whole province, we have the best accommodation facilities, but it is sad that we don’t have enough sporting facilities to host games,” he said.
“Council must consider prioritising sport tourism in its budgets.”
Despite the absence of suitable sporting facilities in the hosting province, Hlongwane said he was happy with the preparations for the games in Matabeleland North.
“We have expanded the number of games, it obviously brings with it serious logistical responsibilities on the part of the local organising committee, Sports Commission as well as the Ministry of Sport and Recreation,” Hlongwane said.
“I must say at the moment I am happy with the preparations that have gone on so far in terms of mobilisation of resources.”
The games are now starting at ward level to provincial level and then national event.
The resort town of Victoria Falls plays host to golf, rugby, chess and weight-lifting.
Chess will be at Mosi-oa-Tunya High School, with golf at Elephant Hills Golf Resort while rugby will be played at Victoria Falls Primary School. Weight-lifting is set for Chinotimba Community Hall.
Volleyball, netball, basketball, boxing, pool and karate will be in Hwange while Marist Brothers Dete will host table tennis, with women and girls’ football being played at Fatima High School in Lupane.
Other sporting codes such as cycling, cricket, hockey, handball and swimming will be staged in Bulawayo.