'Bodybuilding can still grow'

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Nationals have come and gone. A new champion was born in the men’s category with South Africa-based bodybuilder Ndumiso Dhlodhlo shrugging off stiff competition from returning three-time Mr Zimbabwe Champion Chienderamwano in the senior men overall line-up.

In the women category, Bulawayo-based Shantel Greenland-Batch, maintained her dominance by winning the women beach bikini.

The Daily News on Sunday’s Austin Karonga sat down with the National Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (NFZBBF) secretary-general Quiet Shangai to talk about the contest. Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: The Zim Nationals came and went. What lessons did you draw from them?

A: Many lessons; I would like to share the background to the Zim Nationals 2017 first.  Every person who participates at the nationals or in the system is simply doing it on voluntary basis. I mean everyone, that is, the athletes, judges and the administrators. It should also be noted that some of the administrators come all the way from Bulawayo, Bindura, Mutare, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Masvingo using their personal resources in an endeavour to support the movement. The same applies to athletes and judges. We should also appreciate fans that also come all the way from places like South Africa and Botswana with an objective of making these events great. This is the backbone of the system. We need to appreciate that before we discuss the lessons leant. A lot of lessons were learnt. I still stand by my words as per our last interview. We need partners to implement our development strategy. We need to develop judges, athletes and administrators. We need to develop our marketing strategy.This should be our starting point. More administrators who are equipped mean more programmes and projects; hence development of athletes and the system in its entirety. We also need more IFBB-accredited judges, not because individuals who are currently doing duty are incompetent but in order to manage perception. It is also very important to note that not all stakeholders are knowledgeable about the administrative aspect of the Federation because their needs in as far as the federation is concerned may not be as broad as we all expect. Some athletes are interested in the career progression path (those that are exposed) while others want the Federation to award them with cars and houses. We understand all that but for us to find a common ground with these athletes we need to develop them mentally. As long as we do not address the issue of development with regards to important stakeholders, it will be very difficult to grow this sport. Basically those were the lessons learnt.

Q: Do you think there are as many opportunities to grow the fitness industry?

A: Without a doubt my brother. The fitness industry is so broad and can have many participants who can contribute to its sustainability. The most important thing is for the potential participants and current participants to understand the potential that this industry has. It does not require academic excellence to appreciate that. Passion is the main factor. You see, in any industry there is politics, misinformation and misrepresentation of facts but that should not be the core business. The core business must be to develop a particular industry and let its participants flourish. It is as simple as that.

Q: In 2011, National Federation of Zimbabwe Bodybuilding and Fitness superseded Zimbabwe National Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Association. Do you think this development contributed positively to the growth of the sport?

A: It was a positive move in as far as bodybuilding and fitness are concerned but weightlifting was negatively affected. I hope Mukeeredzi and company will be able to grow weight lifting because passion is evident. Bodybuilding and Fitness have grown in terms of stakeholder involvement although we still need to work hard as a sector to attract more athletes and partners. It is a long road because along the way you meet characters who do not understand the macro-fundamentals which affect sports development. It is really a tough, meandering and long road.

Q: I have heard athletes failing to understand Sports and Recreation Commission, Sports tour clearance in other sporting codes. Does it also affect your sporting code?

A: Yes it does because of lack of mutual understanding between athletes and the sporting authority in Zimbabwe. I have seen athletes who choose to represent countries which are not Zimbabwe seeking clearance and when you tell them it is not practical because the law does not permit, you become a target on WhatsApp and gym discussions. It is really sad. I still maintain that as long as we have athletes who are not developed mentally or schooled on the basics we will still have funny characters. Obviously we will not lose sleep over that but it makes us wonder if we will be able to reach the promised land when certain important stakeholders are not aware or are willing to ignore the basics. Like what I said earlier, it is a tough, meandering and long road.

Q: Since 2011, what can we say are the achievements of the NFZBBF?

A: Some of the achievements are meeting the basic requirements of the association. For example, reviving national competitions in 2013, re-joining IFBB in 2015, participating in international competitions, creating a sound relationship with SRC, being able to liaise with IFBB top brass on all matters, sustaining the national events as well as reviving provincial structures. Personally, I believe those were basic achievements which may not need to be celebrated but everyone including myself should understand that these men and women who are/were part of the system between 2011 and now used their personal resources to improve the Federation.

Q: What is your vision for this industry?

A: Increased participation my friend. We need a sound stakeholder relationship management model. We need to engage all like-minded people who want to grow the sport and develop it.

Q:  What are your last words?

A: In every society there are passionate and honest people. There will be geniuses and people who are good at interrogating policies and systems. There are visionaries and runners who will always be there. Let us embrace them and develop the sport we all love. On the other hand there are vindictive and dishonesty people. Let us understand them because the society will be incomplete without those people. They define certain characteristics. Let us educate them if we can. We are all in this sport because we love it. Let us try to get the best out of ourselves in order to be who we want to be. Thank you!

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