Human capacitation key to bodybuilding development

HARARE - Local bodybuilding has transformed from being a minority sport to one of the fastest developing and sought-after disciplines.

Among the highs recorded by the current executive of the National Federation of Zimbabwe Bodybuilding and Fitness (NFZBBF) led by its president Kenny Murungweni was getting the internationally recognised affiliation with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB).

Through IFBB Zimbabwe was able to participate in the inaugural Arnolds Africa Classic in Johannesburg, South Africa — a signature show of the iconic professional body-builder Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The sport also scored another first with former local hulk Victor Hungwe getting a pro card before successfully getting the International Bodybuilding and Fitness (IBFF) affiliation which he now heads as the Zimbabwe president.

And arguably the greatest recognition the sport has received was to have one of its own athletes, Helen Costa Sinclair, being named the Sportsperson of the Year at the 2015 Annual Sports Awards following her victory in Bari, Italy where she won gold during the Mr and Ms IBFF World Championships in the figure category in October of the same year.

The Daily News sports writer Austin Karonga sat down with NFZBBF secretary-general Quite Shangai to look into the events of 2016 and their plans for the New Year. Below are excerpts from the interview.

Q: How you would rate 2016 out of 10 in terms of bodybuilding and fitness development?

A: Well, 2016 we deserve say 8/10. We did very well in terms of organising mandatory events, organising structures and meeting our statutory requirements with the Sports and Recreation Commission.

We also managed to affiliate with IFBB and are also in good books with the Premier International Federation.

However, developing these structures has been our biggest challenge. It is a challenge across the sports movement in Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately, sport administration is measured on administration and development, development being very important because without development sustainability is highly unlikely.

Q: Development seems to be the key word. Can you put detail to “development”.

A:  Development is a key element is sports administration. It is like road network control systems. Only observant and analytical people understand how important they are.

In development, we have many facets like, administrators, judges, athletes, volunteers and the industry itself. These facets complete a system which must be seen in that perspective.

We are short of bodybuilding and fitness administrators in Zimbabwe. That is the plain truth. We have a lot of passionate people, persons who love the sport and are willing to give back to the system but unfortunately very few have the technical capacity to make things happen.

How do we erase these technical deficiencies? We need to develop these individuals who are willing to help but need skills and knowledge.

We have to send them for Sports Administration short courses and even diplomas. Human capital which is not capacitated is worse than no Human capital at all. This should be said out loud and clear.

Let me give you an example of the Japanese bodybuilding and fitness system. Would you say Japanese have individuals with better genetics than Ghanaians? Obviously my rhetoric question does not need an answer because it is a no.

However, Japan is doing very well in this discipline because there is human capital which is fully capacitated at every level.

I must take this opportunity to applaud Kenneth Murugweni for making sure that key technical areas at national level are occupied by the right people in terms of expertise which can be gained elsewhere; Treasurer (Tafadzwa Motsi) who is a chartered accountant, National Organising Secretary (Givemore Marume) with vast experience in the physique and fitness fraternity, Legal Counsel ( Blessing Didza), a partner with a leading law firm and Marketing (Delina Alwanger) who has vast experience as well as wealth of academic knowledge in the marketing field just but to name a few.

However, this is not evident at provincial levels. We are struggling to identify individuals who are capable and willing to help.

Matabeleland North and South are two areas where even setting up structures is proving difficult.

We also need a model to develop judges so that we can keep abreast with changes which are happening in the physique and fitness industry. Judges can make or break a show. If judges fail to assess physiques accordingly there will be athletes’ truancy; hence diminished audience leading to withdrawal by partners because no sane company will partner were mileage is not guaranteed.

The third aspect is athletes. We just have to partner schools, tertiary and higher education institutions, police, army and prisons. In that area we are trying very hard. We need to develop as many athletes as possible. We definitely need athletes.

The fitness industry comprises of many players; gyms etc. We can promote the fitness lifestyle thereby bringing life to gyms that in turn should also support us by encouraging participation and even partnering our events.

Some gyms do so and others do not think it’s a wise idea. We are in the process of partnering some exercise science schools to develop coaches who obviously have a direct impact on the fitness industry.

Q: How much of an influence did the economic environment have on your programmes and projects last year?

A: Without a doubt. We had a very tough year. We are very grateful that we managed to pull through. It was not easy at all. Hopefully 2017 will be bigger and better.

Q: Do you get support from the government?

A:  Your question spectrum is to broad; hence very difficult to respond to.

Q: Do you get financial assistance from government?

A: Not that I know of.

Q:  What of other support?

A: There are other areas where government through the Sports and Recreation Commission(SRC) and Zimbabwe Olympic Committee assists.

Q: What are those areas?

A:  Training and Development.

Q:   In terms of financial support what do you think government must do?

A:  The government through the Ministry of Sports and Recreation and SRC can do a lot. The first that I think every stakeholders need to know is that Sport is an industry and everyone’s approach must respect that.

The government also need to marry sport and the industry so that organisations partner sports in one way or the other.

We also need a sports levy to cushion sports associations on basics such as office accommodation and salaries for the secretariat.

Most sports associations do not have secretariat because they cannot afford to pay them.

Membership fees alone cannot pay for international affiliations, administration and general programmes and projects. This issue needs an indaba where participants are not defensive otherwise sport in Zimbabwe will remain at recreation level.

Furthermore, Sport ministry needs to have dialogue with ministry responsible for media for purposes of support. Information is very key. I personally feel the Higher Education and Primary and Secondary Education ministries should also be engaged to accept the so called new genres although Eugen Sandow introduced the first bodybuilding and fitness competition in 1901 while the first Football World Cup goal was scored by Just Fontane in 1930.

Q: NFZBBF participated at Arnolds. What where the lessons?

A:  Bodybuilding is a game of genetics and proper training and nutrition. Identify potential athletes and educate them.

Furthermore, bodybuilding and fitness requires money. Develop the fitness industry by creating activity; hence resources. We also need to introduce new genres in our local system to stand a chance at these festivals.

Mozambique collected medals in each and every division they competed in including men’s physique because they had the athletes. It is as simple as that. Most people are quick to say what they do not understand about the fitness industry. They want to maintain some tradition without assessing what is taking place globally. It is very sad. It reminds me of the “extinct animals” which failed to adapt.

Q:  Some athletes believe prize money should be reviewed upward? What is your comment?

A:  I understand them because everyone needs more money than he/she is currently getting including me where I work. It is something that we all understand.

However, the system needs to create money so as to give away money. You cannot give prizes which are not there. Basic costing and financial management will tell you that revenue in small sports is very little.

However, I know of people who think that the only cost centre in bodybuilding and fitness administration is prizes. I am tempted to understand those people because not everyone had the privilege to do Accounts in school, college or university.

At Arnolds, the overall winner for each genre went away with a trophy, a pro card and a jacket. That is how amateur bodybuilding operates.

At pro level money is given. However, in Zimbabwe we understand that we do not have IFBB pros hence we create a model to reward athletes. Off-course the rewarding system must be sustainable.

I have heard of people in other countries creating shows with hefty prizes only to be left with tens of thousands in loses. The next thing is they quit the industry. It’s quite sad.

Q:   What should we expect in 2017?

A:  We will have Novice on the 25th of March. We can safely say we are 60 percent ready. We will then go for Arnolds from May 5 - 7. On June 3, we will have Ironman, then Marume Classics on August 5 and Mashonaland bodybuilding competition on August 26.

Mr and Ms Zimbabwe will conclude our national calendar on October 28. We are also planning to do schools, tertiary and universities. As usual we will be part of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner’s Sports gala. Our provinces will also do a number of shows. It is a busy year, trust me.

Our strategy in 2017 is to penetrate the schools, colleges and universities.

We also want to invite as many fitness industry players as are practicable to Zimbabwe to try and grow the sport.

Q: You are looking so big. Are you by any chance competing this year?

A:  (Laughing.) I would have loved to but my main rivals Walter Munyikwa, Itai Mukotekwa, Givemore Marume and Tobias Madzime are afraid. I want to send them to the cleaners.

Q: Anything for the fitness community?

A:  Keep on supporting the industry guys. Together we can make this industry big. 

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