Take sport seriously: Kazembe

HARARE – Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe has urged sporting associations to take their preparations seriously in order to enhance chances of winning medals for the country in the coming Youth Olympic Games, the African Games and the Summer Olympic Games.

The new minister speaking at his maiden Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) night at a local hotel on Wednesday since taking over from deposed minister Makhosini Hlongwane said the habit of preparing a few days before the event is unacceptable.

“...I am also aware that in 2018, 2019 and 2020 there will be Youth Olympic Games, the African Games and Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games respectively.

“In order for us to excel at these Games, we need to be adequately prepared and this calls for all the national sport associations to step up their efforts now,” Kazembe said in his keynote address.

“The idea of starting to run around a few days before the competition does not augur very well with the image of our country and does not show our seriousness or our zeal to win medals.

“Government expects all national sport associations to have started preparing for the games. It is my hope that there is transparency in the selection of the athletes as enunciated in the Zimbabwe national team selection policy.”

The minister acknowledged the constraints sporting associations face in the discourse of their action plan and pledged to do everything within his mandate to try and help out in areas the ministry can assist.

“I am aware that sometimes resource constraints impede your preparations and as government, we shall play our part to support the preparations though I must overtly state that government alone cannot adequately resource all your needs.

“To this end, it becomes imperative that you also look for other revenue streams, outside of government, to augment what we would have provided you with,” Kazembe added.

“In the new dispensation, the government has moved to revive the sport industry through fiscal support for infrastructure development.

“This will give my ministry the impetus it needs for implementation of development policies. The major thrust is being put on the construction of facilities and improvement on the existing ones for the enhancement of podium performance.”

Kazembe also acknowledged the effort and hard work put in by the athletes, coaches and administrators culminating in such awards nights as the Ansa.

“...the government and the Sports and Recreation Commission, with the support of our sponsors, endeavour to host this auspicious and glamorous event every year, in order to recognise our sporting ambassadors who have raised the National Flag high, and indeed put our name on the world sporting map,” he said.

“The above does not just happen; it takes a lot of hard work, determination, fortitude and the right focus. These are attributes found in athletes, administrators and officials who are objective and highly disciplined. I am happy to note that we have athletes in this country who are able to hold fort at competitions of the highest level in the world.”

Speaking at the same occasion, hosts’ SRC chairperson Edward Siwela said the coming in of a new political dispensation comes as refreshing news for the sporting sector.

“...In this recognition of this new political and economic dispensation, I need to emphasise the need for an equally new sporting and recreation dispensation.

“The Ansa play an important role in motivating the various categories of sporting actors to work hard towards even better performance.

“The new dispensation is, in my view, going to unleash the sporting potential of our athletes, coaches, technical officials and administrators, propelling them to even greater heights.

“But to do so, to leverage these positive changes, there will be a greater need for a change in the mind set of our sports administrators, in particular,” Siwela said.

“They will need to embrace the mantra that sport is not only business, but big business at that (a multibillion dollar industry in other countries). They will need to develop themselves by honing skills and competencies that are the hallmark of successful business leaders.

“They will need to master the subject of corporate governance, embrace the tenets and best practices of good corporate governance. They will need to run the National Sports Associations as businesses.”