To address challenges in sport, Government will increase investment in the sector while all sporting associations must mainstream professionalism, good corporate governance and shun rogue administrators, President Mnangagwa has said.
He also called for investment in the operationalisation of sporting academies and the appointment of a wide array of qualified sporting staff at such institutions to ensure the realisation of the full potential of the sporting fraternity.
President Mnangagwa said this at State House in Harare yesterday during a reception he held to honour Kudakwashe “Take Money” Chiwandire for winning the World Boxing Council Interim Super Bantamweight title last month.
“Sport cannot continue to hog the limelight for the wrong reasons. It is therefore urgent for all sporting associations to mainstream professionalism, good corporate governance, as well as transparency and accountability in the administration of the sporting fraternity.
“Our athletes and the development of sport in our nation cannot be held to ransom by a small group of rogue sports administrators.
“Greater investments must be put in place towards capacity building and the development of strategies that will see the realisation of the full potential of the sporting fraternity,” President Mnangagwa said.
“I therefore, call upon the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and all sport agencies to roll out programmes to enhance the capacities of sport administrators, managers, promoters, coaches and athletes alike.”
Football administration is one of the sporting disciplines that has recently hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons with some administrators accused of financial malfeasance and sexual abuse of female referees.
This has prompted the Sports and Recreation Commission to suspend the Zifa board led by Felton Kamambo.
“Sport plays an integral role as a catalyst for spurring human development and the promotion of a healthy nation.
“The challenges bedevilling our local sporting sector in general and boxing in particular such as limited investment as well as adverse lack of equipment, standard facilities, and research need to be urgently addressed.
“In this regard, I pledge my Government’s commitment to increasing investment in sport in the coming years in order to address these matters,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I also implore the corporate sector to support the sporting sector towards a competitive industry that benefits both sports persons and the nation as a whole.”
He warned those who abuse female athletes as well as those who abuse substances, saying the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
“Incidences of all forms of abuse, especially targeting female athletes as well as use of doping substances, must be eradicated. We will not hesitate to punish the perpetrators,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said grassroots sports development for the attainment of the goals enunciated in the National Development Strategy 1, must remain a priority.
“The Second Republic stands ready to facilitate the decentralisation of various sports to reach all parts of the country.
“Talent identification across all sporting disciplines must be in tandem with our mantra of ‘Leaving no one and no place behind.’ Additionally, the provision of sporting and recreational facilities, down to ward level must be accelerated,” the President said.
Turning to Chiwandire, President Mnangagwa said Government stands ready to support her in the title defence against Mariana ‘La Barbie’ Juarez of Mexico, at the end of the second quarter of 2022.
“The event will undoubtedly afford us a unique opportunity to market our country as a favourable destination in our quest to host many other international sporting events.
“To Kudakwashe, I personally congratulate you on your historic achievement. Your victory makes you a role model to the youth in general and young girls in particular.
“May this recognition by your country serve to motivate other young people throughout the country to exert their energy on safe, beneficial, and productive activities such as sports.
“Drug and substance abuse, among other social vices afflicting our communities, should be shunned and rejected,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said it was ironic that Chiwandire attained this acclaimed title in March, the Women’s Month, which was held under the theme, “Break the Bias”.
“By winning this coveted title, Kudakwashe has indeed “broken the bias” and excelled in a previously male-dominated sport. She has also exhibited the tenacity, resolve and determination associated with the warrior spirit of the people of our great country.
“Her victory and achievement is equally a testimony that women can achieve great exploits in all spheres of life in general and sport in particular,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Chiwandire’s achievement reinforced the immense potential and success of Zimbabwean women in sport since the attainment of Independence, which include the Golden Girls era in hockey, the Olympic swimming exploits by Kirsty Coventry, and the Mighty Warriors’ participation at the Rio Olympics, among others.