BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry has expressed excitement at the potential Zimbabwean sport has to sell the country to the rest of the world, urging the government to invest more in the sport industry.
This comes at a time when the country is hosting two international sporting events inside two weeks where at least 26 countries are represented.
Triathlon Zimbabwe hosted the Troutbeck (ATU) Triathlon African Cup at the Nyanga resort yesterday attracting athletes from 10 different countries.
Representatives from 16 countries are set to converge in Victoria Falls for the Africa Sport Shooting Championships this weekend.
“Zimbabwe is expecting to receive more than a hundred direct participants for shooting and 40 for triathlon, who will be accompanied by family and friends.
Once again, this pouring visit for sport by athletes and enthusiasts spells how sport has become a lucrative and continually growing marketplace worthy of immense investments for tourism,” said Coventry during a recent press conference.
Countries such as South Africa, Tunisia, Namibia, Egypt, Mauritius, Brazil, Switzerland and Syria, among others, were represented at the Triathlon African Cup.
Athletes from as far as Britain, the United States of America, France, Canada, Greece, Russia, German, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, , Poland, Ireland and Australia are expected for the shooting championships.
There has been little investment in sport by the government in the past years and as a result the country has failed it realise its full potential in sport.
The Sport ministry, through the Sports and Recreation Commission, is looking to bring wholesale changes to the local sporting landscape to ensure that sport is self-sustaining in the country.
It is also the ministry’s wish to see sport contributing to the national economy.
Worrying is the state of some of the country’s infrastructure, especially for team sports, that have been left to dilapidate at the expense of sports development.
Zimbabwe has in the recent past years hosted the ICC World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2016 World Rugby Under-20 Trophy
“Allow me to congratulate the Shooting Federation and Triathlon Zimbabwe for bringing these two events to home soil and it is my personal wish to continue having national sport associations hosting events here in Zimbabwe,” Coventry said.
She also took to Twitter to celebrate the upcoming event.
“#SportTourism: 10 countries represented at the African Triathlon Cup in Nyanga this weekend and 16 countries at the Africa Sport Shooting Championships next week in Victoria Falls.
When visiting sports teams go back home, they will share the amazing experience they had in Zimbabwe, and portray Zimbabwe in the positive light it deserves. #SportsTourism,” she tweeted.