BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has made its intension to transform Zimbabwe sport clear after staging arguably the best Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) ceremony in recent memory at the Manna Resorts in the capital last Wednesday.
South Africa-based Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star Themba Gorimbo won the coveted Sportsperson of the Year accolade which carried a whopping $20 000 winners’ prize money sponsored by telecommunications giant NetOne.
Gorimbo won an additional $200 000 for emerging Sportsman of the Year before he was crowned the best Zimbabwean athlete for the year 2019.
Last year’s winner, Wilfred Mashaya, walked away with $17 000 for both accolades.
There were some questions over the omission of several deserving local athletes such as basketball star Vitalis Chikoko, Warriors midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, cricket umpire Langton Rusere, Gems’ goal shooter Joyce Takaidza and professional golfer Scott Vincent, just to mention a few.
There was nothing, but praise for the organisers for putting together a glittering event befitting of its stature as one of the biggest events on the Zimbabwean sporting landscape where the country’s excelling athletes are celebrated and recognised.
While many were in awe at the standard displayed by the Gerald Mlotshwa-led SRC board in its first awards event, just eight months into office, the local sport regulatory body feels they can still improve.
“Basically the vision in terms of the Ansa awards is to prop them and transform them into a prime event in Zimbabwe in a way that every athlete can looks forward to them. These awards should be positioned competitively with other regional and international sporting awards,” SRC director marketing and business development Eltah Nengomasha told StandardSport.
“While there were a lot changes in the way the 2019 Ansa were organised, we feel there is room for further improvement. But transformation can only be successful if we have partners.
“For the 2019 awards NetOne was the title sponsor for the Sportsperson of the Year to the tune of $200 000. Delta, our perennial partner, was a gold sponsor. We also had Schweppes, Style by Minnie, 4 May and Manna Resorts as partners,” she said.
The awards were also supported by the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry through provision of most of the funding, including prize money for the rest of the winning categories.
In his address, SRC board chairman Mlothswa emphasised that his team would focus on the transformation of Zimbabwe sport.
“For the duration of the board’s tenure, the SRC will focus on the transformation of sport in Zimbabwe. In this respect, a national sport strategy will be unveiled in due course after consultation with key stakeholders has been completed,” he said.
“Sport in this country should be run along commercial lines in order that it can contribute to the development of the economy.
“Critical to this is ensuring that sport in this country is run by efficient, transparent and accountable national sports associations. Regrettably, and at present, this is not the case in several instances.
“Incompetence and downright corruption and other criminal activity is rampant in the administration of some of our key sporting disciplines.
“It is for this reason that some of these non-compliant associations have not been invited to this event.”
Mlotshwa also reiterated the need for associations to make sport a business and that his board would work round the clock to foster commercially acceptable levels of governance within national associations in order that they cease to be a drain on the national fiscus.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry, who was the guest honour at the biggest sports awards event in Zimbabwe, said the well organised awards ceremony was a positive step in her mission to rebrand local sport.
“I gave the mandate to the SRC board (to organise the awards), I had very high expectations and I think they have exceeded those expectations, it’s a beautiful night,” said Coventry.
“I have only heard good things from athletes, from the sports network. As an athlete, I am always analysing things and so I think there are a few things where we can get better.
“But, it was a very good start for the re-branding of what sport can be and can offer this country.’’
The Ansa ceremony also coincided with signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Zimbabwe and the African Union Sports Council Region Fivefor the establishment of a regional sports museum in the country.