HARARE - Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane, has challenged the National Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (NFZBBF) team to acquaint themselves well at the inaugural Arnold Classic Africa scheduled for Johannesburg, South Africa in May.
NFZBBF last weekend named a 28-member team to do battle at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) meet which will run for the first time in Africa in Johannesburg from May 27-29.
This will also be the first time local athletes compete in an IFBB-sanctioned event following the acceptance of the local association by the international body last year.
In a speech read on his behalf by the principal director in his ministry, Benson Dube at the official team announcement in the capital at the weekend, Hlongwane wished the athletes the best of luck.
“As a nation, we are proud that our bodybuilding and fitness athletes are going to represent our country in the inaugural IFBB Arnold
Classic Africa. I would like to take this opportunity to wish our athletes good luck as they embark on a historic mission down south to conquer Africa,” Hlongwane said.
“It is quite encouraging to note that, as Zimbabwe, we have managed to be part of the biggest bodybuilding and fitness franchise in the world.
“Recently, our reigning Sportsperson of the Year, Helen Sinclair Costa, conquered the world in Italy, which is a huge achievement for bodybuilding and the sport movement in Zimbabwe.”
The team comprising senior and junior men bodybuilders, women physique and women body fitness, bikini and model search as well as men physique is expected to depart for the continental showcase on May 25.
NFZBBF through their various partners said they will try to make the process easier for the athletes by paying the $250 registration and participation fee required for each individual. In addition to the above, NFZBBF also made a commitment to provide transport to and from South Africa as well as food and accommodation.
The minister also urged athletes to be at their best behaviour while in South Africa and also expressed his desire to see the sport spreading to the grassroots.
“I would like to challenge the team taking part in the IFBB Arnold classic Africa, to go and represent Zimbabwe well and fairly with dignity. You are ambassadors of brand Zimbabwe as you go to this tournament. So bear in mind that the manner in which you conduct yourself is very important,” he said.
“I would like to reiterate that, as a ministry, we acknowledge that bodybuilding is one of the facets that enable us to have an active nation.
“To this end, we want to see bodybuilding and fitness being part of school sport with structure at ward, district and provincial up to national level.”
Meanwhile, NFZZBF will be conducting athletes’ assessment visits and warned that many may be axed from the squad if they do not meet acceptable standards required to compete at such an international platform.
NFZBBF board member in charge of athletes, Givemore Marume said the visits will commence in three months’ time.
“We will be moving around with the technical team to monitor every athlete’s progress prior to the competition sometime in April and should we feel that athlete X hasn’t been putting enough effort to represent the country in South Africa as evidenced by the body condition then unfortunately that bodybuilder will have to be dropped from the team.
“But generally, we hope everyone will be at their best in training between now and May,” Marume said.