NFZBBF hopes to secure govt funding

HARARE – After hosting a memorable bodybuilding contest for newcomers, the Muscle Rage Novice Zimbabwe 2018 Championships last month, the National Federation of Zimbabwe Bodybuilding and Fitness (NFZBBF) has now set their sights on the annual Arnold Classic Africa scheduled for Johannesburg, South Africa.

It is a mixed-bag in terms of the preparations with almost 75 percent of ground work covered but what largely remains is accessing funds from government to make the trip a success.

The Daily News on Sunday’s Sports Writer, Austin Karonga sat down with the ever-accessible NFZBBF secretary-general Quiet Shangai to discuss this and other issues. Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: Congratulations for organising a successful Novice event. It was a Novice event with a difference for sure.

A: It was my brother. We can safely say that we have great potential in Zimbabwe. I was impressed.

Q: I understand that your next project is the Arnold Classic Africa tour in May in South Africa. Are you ready?

A: There are five aspects in terms of readiness which are team selection, team preparedness, preliminary registration, final registration and logistics. In terms of the first three we are done. We have selected a team of 20 athletes and they are training so hard.  We have also submitted the entry form to International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness. We are ready in that regard. The final two areas are the most complicated ones because you need financial resources. You need funds for registration, accommodation, transport and food. It is painful; we end up going with a depleted team due to lack of funding. It is really sad.

Q: I understand that the team will be representing Zimbabwe. Have you ever approached government for financial assistance?

A: We have always approached the government for help my brother. The women, girls, boys and men will be representing Zimbabwe. The government through Sports and Recreation Commission clears the team.  However, government is yet to provide financial assistance as at today. I do not want to go into the politics of funding but personally I feel there should be criteria of providing financial assistance to national teams travelling and representing the country. It might be a limit to say funding for a particular national association with regards to sports tours has a ceiling of $X for a given year. To me it makes sense that way. I hope this year we will get something and assist these athletes who have made winning a culture. I just hope the government through SRC will assist. I just hope so.

Q: You look troubled. Why?

A: Bodybuilding and Fitness is a very expensive sport. I think for a competitor it may be the third most expensive sport after motor racing and golf. I even doubt if golf is as expensive as bodybuilding and fitness let alone more expensive. You need thousands of dollars to prepare for an international competition. Hellen Costa won the body fitness division, got a medal and a trophy and came back home. Luckily she won the Sports Women of the Year Award and possibly got something. However, this year she can’t participate probably because she has other commitments. This is how we end up failing to perform at these festivals. I have a question which people do not want to respond to. Maybe it is rhetoric. Are all sporting codes equal in the eyes of the stakeholders?

Q: That is a difficult question Mr Shangai. What do you think?

A: They are on paper my brother. Football is the world’s most beautiful game and we should understand that. Cricket, rugby and athletics are equally important. As for bodybuilding, we still need to convince the powers-that-be that it is equally an important sport. At this juncture let us not lie to ourselves. We have a lot of work to do in order to convince key stakeholders.

Q: You look relaxed and you are smiling but your words are just too tough. Do you think bodybuilding is regarded as a minority sport?

A: Yes without a doubt my brother. I am one person who believes in honest talk. Bodybuilding is not football; hence as an administrator, I have to understand that stakeholders will react in a certain way when we approach them for assistance, government included. I am not being pessimistic but this is the plain truth.

Q: What are you going to do in order to address the funding issue?

A: As usual we will continue to justify our tour to the Sports and Recreation Commission. Hopefully our justifications will be good enough. Secondly we will continue to approach companies and individuals for support. We have identified some sponsor who is willing to help. I cannot name them now because it is premature. However, a few are promising and I am sure they will assist in one way or the other.

Q: Thank you for your time sir. Wish you good luck in your preparations.

A: You are welcome my brother. You can also donate something. It is allowed.

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