It's not the economy

HARARE - Over the years, local sports bodies and teams have cried out for funding and sponsorship ahead of crucial matches and assignments.

Shortly before the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, the Zimbabwe government had to fork out $1 million to bankroll the Warriors’ participation in Gabon.

Just last month, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) announced they would be not be in a position to pay salaries for all their staff and players.

In the end, the International Cricket Council (ICC) had to remit funds from Dubai in order to bail out ZC.

Dynamos, arguably Zimbabwe’s most successful football club, last participated in the African Champions League in 2013 despite qualifying for the tournament in 2014 and 2015.

The Glamour Boys’ reason for pulling out of the continent’s premier club football competition is simply because they couldn’t fund the away travelling in Africa.    

These are just a few examples but most of our — in fact all  — local sports bodies are guilty of just relying on government support to fund their operations.

Zimbabwe’s economy is not performing and there is great burden on the fiscus which means government does not have spare change to dish out to sporting organisations.

The likes of Zifa, ZC and the rest of the sporting community should look at self-funding projects that will enhance their coffers if they are to survive in this economy.

Although they are one of the most successful sporting organisations on the planet, unlike nearly every National Olympic Committee in the world, the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) receives no government support.

USOC relies on private resources to help fund America’s elite athletes as they focus on their pursuit of excellence at the Olympics.

In preparing for the Olympics or Paralympic games, US athletes require funding for sport performance services, elite-level coaching, Olympic Training Centres and international competitions. The USOC’s main sources of revenue are television broadcast rights, sponsorships and philanthropy in the form of major gifts and direct mail income.

Before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, USOC spent a total of $73 million in grants to athletes and sport bodies while another $81 million went towards support programmes.

As a result, the US scooped a total of 121 medals of which 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze; the most by any nation.

Another example of which local sport bodies should aspire to become is the United States Tennis Association (USTA) which generated at least $350 million by hosting the US Open this year.

Over the past five years, the USTA has spent $600 million, self-funded, in the strategic transformation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, improving around 85 percent of the grounds according to Forbes Magazine.

The key word here is “self-funding”, which seems to be an alien phrase to Zimbabwean sport bodies. 

That $600 million investment has already paid off for the USTA. In 2017, ticket sales and broadcasting generated $120 million each, with an additional $65 million from sponsorship deals and $30 million in concessions this year.

During the 2018 US Open, ticket sales rose to $130 million and sponsorship increased slightly to $70 million.

USTA executive director and CEO Gordon Smith revealed his organisation’s secret to success.

“Our money doesn’t go to shareholders, investors or team owners. We take the money that we make and give it back to the game,” Smith told Forbes.

However, this is not the case in Zimbabwe where the real stars of the sport are suffering in poverty while the executives and team bosses fatten their bank balances.

Local sport bodies always give us this excuse that the economy is not performing and there is no funding from government but the USOC and USTA are thriving without a penny from President Donald Trump’s government.

It only takes good organisational skills which will attract sponsors and fans so that sport can thrive.

Comments (2)

Nigel this is a well researched article plainly explaining why Zimbabwean sport is in a rut. If only this article could be made front page material or repeated in publication (even with other media houses). The rot in Zimbabwean sports is due to corrupt, inept, selfish adminstrators (some who have been in office for more than years). When the election dust has settled hopefully we will have an experienced, passionate Minister of Sports like Kirsty Coventry or Temba Mliswa or Gerald Maguranyanga or other equipped, visionary Zimbabweans who can map out a clear road map to lift Zimbabwean out of the sporting laughing stock. Whoever becomes sports minister should revamp the whole sporting structure - from ministry departments through ZOC, SRC and the federations under them DEMANDIING TANGIBLE RESULTS. The past month and a half has been an embarassment in Zimbabwean sport. The cricket team, under 17 soccer team, rugby 7s and the dismal perfomance by track athletes in the recent CAA Africa Senior Champs in Nigeria solidifies that Zimbabwe will continue being perennial sport under achievers as long as we have the same visionless, corrupt and unaccountable administrators running the show. Small countries like Liberia, Swaziland, Botswana etc. are punching above their weight producing podium athletic due to a clear sport vision well articulated in talent identification, development, and commensurate reward of athletes (educational / sporting scholarships, monthly allowances for elite athletes and reward for podium achievement). Infrastructural development in these countries (schools of excellency, modern, well equipped sports facilities etc.) which is freely accessible to everyone coupled with well trained coaches and support personnel is producing results in other African countries much smaller than Zimbabwe. But then again, they consider sport as a significant industry sector unlike Zimbabwe.

Daniel 5 - 15 August 2018

I want to slightly differ with opinion, everything hinges is hinged on the economy - self funding suggested in the article is directly related to the economy. In Zim its worse because the ruling party - zanupf influences operations of all facets of life and unfortunately everything they touch has turned to rot to this day. Hence the wholesome failure of most sporting disciplines. Over the years zanupf has taught indoctrinated promoted corruption and selfish people no sane corporate world will bring-in sponsorship under such.

Sinyo - 15 August 2018

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