Masenda out to leave legacy

HARARE - After securing a third and final term as Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (Zoc) president, Admire Masenda wants to leave a legacy in the local Olympic sport movement.

The former basketball player and administrator says he is having sleepless nights as he plots how the country can win more medals at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in 2020.

Since independence, Zimbabwe has won only eight medals at the Olympics and the bulk of them were delivered by swimming icon Kirsty Coventry, who was also elected as the Zoc vice-president last week.

The national women’s hockey team, the Golden Girls, won the country’s first golden medal at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980.

After a long wait, Coventry brought back Zimbabwe on the map when she managed her haul at the Beijing (2008) and London (2012) Games.

Zimbabwean athletes returned from the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil last year without a single medal as they struggled for podium finishes.

The former basketball player and administrator was elected into office to lead Zoc for a third year term running and feels it is high time the people’s trust and confidence in him translates into medals.

Masenda is putting all his trust in the newly-established Olympafrica Centre Project in Epworth to help establish the next Zimbabwean Olympians.

The project has faced resistance after illegal settlers invaded the five hectares of land Zoc had been granted by the Epworth Local Board (ELB) to built a multi-purpose sports facility.

The facility would be able to cater for at least five sports namely football, athletics, boxing, basketball and netball.

However, the dispute is being resolved and Masenda is hopeful soon the centre’s constriction can commence.

“That’s my pet project...it hasn’t taken off, we have managed to secure funding and I would like to see it take off before I leave office,” Masenda told the Daily News on Sunday.

“What has stopped us right now is the issue of the land where we have had settlers moving there to the land that had been allocated.

“We have been fortunate that the minister of Local Government has allocated alternative land so we have left it to the ELB to move the people and that has been the delay. Once the people are moved we are going in there; we are going to level the ground, we are up and running.”

Turning to his goal of seeing Zimbabwe become a competitive nation at future Olympic Games, Masenda said: “I think the nation has invested in me in terms of allowing the three terms and I think it’s time for the nation to get their rewards unlocking the investment they have placed in me.

“I also want to make a contribution; we now have a National Sports Policy in place, we also now have a stand-alone Sports ministry. I would like to make a contribution in helping Zoc and the Sports ministry work more efficiently together in my last term of office.”

Masenda has been at the helm of Zoc for the past 10 years and believes he has done a good job in that period despite the limited success Zimbabwe has enjoyed in that period.

“I think my record speaks for itself. I would say this with confidence; Zoc is looked at as a flagship of sporting associations in the country,” he said.

“We have been able to run and manage the organisation in a manner that people are proud of. We are viewed as the model National Olympic Committee for Africa and that is not something that you just get up and you are given, you earn that.

“The challenge we face despite the reasonably good management of the organisation is that we are not translating that into medals and people will remember us for this so we need to get to a place where good management also gives good results. And for me I think that will be the focal point for the next four years.”

Masenda paid tribute to the Mighty Warriors for demystifying the myth that Zimbabwean team sports are cursed and cannot qualify for the Olympic Games.

The Zimbabwe women’s football team was the first local team sport to reach the Olympic Games in Rio last year since the Golden Girls in Moscow 1980.

“It’s good that the Mighty Warriors went, it was good that they were exposed to that level of competition,” he said.

“We just need to build up but sadly for women’s football here there’s a huge gap with the teamS they played against in Rio.

“Here the local leagues are not as comprehensive as the men’s leagues so the level of competition creates a problem in trying to uplift that area but I still think women’s football has a potential.”

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