THE Government has said investment in sports and recreation facilities was key in harnessing the abundant talent that lies throughout the country.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, said this as he allocated a vote of $7,844,058,000, for the year 2022, to the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Ministry.
The figure was a significant increase from last year’s $3,4 billion.
Ncube said Government was taking a key thrust in investing in sport and recreation infrastructure to get the best out of local athletes.
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“Government will also establish and modernise the training institutions with the capacity to identify and nurture talent, starting from grassroots level, with a bias on rural areas,’’ he said.
“This includes resuscitation of sport, arts and recreation facilities throughout the country to meet international standards, taking into account people with disabilities for recreational activities, cognisant that arts provide potential employment creation avenues through drama, visual and media arts, dance, music and literature.
“Investment in sports and recreation facilities allows the country to harness individual potential and participation in local, regional and international sport competitions that increase citizen’s income and well-being.
“Government will, therefore, provide resources to support recreational activities including sports and arts, as part of supporting livelihoods, especially for the youths.”
Debate has been raging over the state of the country’s sports and recreation infrastructure.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, made a passionate appeal for increased funding.
Coventry made the plea to President Mnangagwa, who was the guest of honour, at the ceremony to welcome countries taking part in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021.
Coventry said sport occupied a key place in Government’s National Development Strategy 1 and that the growth and success of the sector was underpinned by more investment, in infrastructure, and personnel.
“Your Excellency, I know you fondly expect sport to significantly contribute towards economic development, and transformation within our National Development Strategy 1,’’ she said.
“And, in that vein, I passionately appeal for increased budgetary allocation towards the sport and recreation sector during the upcoming 2022 national budgeting process by the Treasury.
“Adequate resourcing will put my Ministry, National Associations and other delivery agents in a stronger position to take sport to all corners of the country, improve performance standards on the competition arena and stage more competitions such as the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers that attract more tourists, and help put Zimbabwe on the world map.’’ Domestic sport this year was confronted by many challenges with the situation being made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sporting heroes that managed to defy the odds, like marshal artist Wilfred Mashaya, have not been adequately rewarded despite putting the country on the world map.
The Ministry also need more funding for infrastructure.
The National Sports Stadium has been banished, by the Confederation of African Football, from hosting international matches, featuring the Warriors.
Areas that require urgent attention for the stadium to meet required standards includes the installation of bucket seats, electronic turnstiles and automated systems, as well as the setting up of a Venue Operations Centre, with a good overview of the stadium, equipped with CCTV monitors for security and safety operations. CAF also wants the B Arena renovated, in line with CAF Training field infrastructure requirements.