The year 2018 came into force last week with most local national teams having already kick-started their preparations for what should be another bust year for Zimbabwean sport.
By MICHAEL KARIAT
What, however, continues to be a worrying trend is the absence of adequate funding for local sports associations to bankroll their teams’ preparations and participation in their scheduled events.
This is something that has been happening over the years with some of our national teams withdrawing from international competitions while those who would have managed to participate only doing so from their own pockets and for that matter, with limited resources.
There was a time when the president of the Zimbabwe Kickboxing Association, Tony Kamangira revealed that they had to borrow equipment from their opponents in order for them to participate in an international competition in South Africa.
This was degrading for a team that called itself the Zimbabwe national team and something like that should not be allowed to continue, especially, at a time when there is a ministry responsible for sport.
Those in positions of authority in local sport should understand that national teams are the flagbearers of our country because sport is a mirror of our society.
Fine, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Patrick Chinamasa, said government would be allocating some funds to sport and in particular for the establishment and development of local sporting facilities and infrastructure.
What Chinamasa forgot was that the sportsmen themselves need adequate funding to enable them to successfully compete outside the country and in the local stadia.
That is the challenge the new Sports minister Raymond Kazembe faces in 2018.
Although he has limited sports background, Kazembe has a rough idea of what is required having previously served as secretary general of Zimbabwe’s biggest football team, Dynamos.
During his short tenure at DeMbare, Kazembe learnt the importance of financial resources if success is to be achieved. On that premise, he should know that our national teams need money if they are to succeed.
There are a lot of international engagements in 2018 including the Warriors’ Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, 2019 Cricket World Cup qualifiers, the Davis Cup assignments, the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, among other competitions on the athletics scene.
All these engagements need huge financial backing and only the government can provide that.
If the country can afford to host all those music galas and those carnivals for which they bring hundreds of artists from other countries — all paid for by the government—why can’t the same government bankroll its own sporting national teams?
The year 2018 promises to be a good one for Zimbabwean sport and the sport fraternity is waiting with bated breath to hear from Kazembe how much each sporting discipline is going to receive for their international participation.
That money should not be confined to popular sporting disciplines only but to all sporting associations registered with the Sport and Recreation Commission and based on the programmes presented.
Scenes like the Warriors boycotting the presidential dinner due to non-payment of allowances and bonuses are not good for the country and should not be repeated. These can only be avoided if money is made available and in time, and not when there is a crisis, as was the case with the Warriors.
The new minister should be reminded that all those speeches at gatherings will count for nothing if money does not reach to those who need it. That is something Kazembe should seriously have in mind as sport happens in 2018.
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