THE Bulawayo National Association of Secondary School Heads (Nash) championships held at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) on March 6-7 2014 was one of the best run and organised schools event I have seen in this country in many years.
The programme was well followed, with times adhered to. This all comes from people working together for a common cause.
At a meeting at the beginning of this year there was a session chaired by the head in charge athletics, Gambiza of Northlea High School.
At this meeting it was agreed that for Bulawayo’s fortunes to change in the positive direction we needed to work together as one.
Bulawayo Athletics Board (BAB) must be given a chance to play its role as custodians of athletics in the province, experienced school and club coaches must be invited to coach athletes right from house level.
A call for schools to introduce school clubs was one of the items tabled and some schools did take it seriously.
To operationalise the ideas tabled at the meeting, two three-day workshops were conducted in conjunction with BAB, one for officials and the other for coaches.
It is these BAB-trained officials that were on duty during the competions at Nust and they lived up to the billing.
However, still lag behind in the quality of coaching in our schools.
I know those that were there cheering the athletes on and did not have a chance to verify the quality by comparing times and distances to those at national events, will think we have a formidable team.
I have taken my time to look at our own 2012, 2013 results and compared with 2014, in this regard there is some overall improvement in the results.
We are, however, still not up there where we compare with the national results per event, per age group over the past three years. We have improved as a province, but a lot is yet to be done to be among the top provinces at national level.
In terms of sprints and field events most of our athletes are there with the top.
The most worrying area in terms of team Bulawayo will be the middle and long distances, where the times of winners are nowhere near the national standards, save for one or two outstanding athletes.
With less than two weeks to camps, it is not easy to improve in events that are energy system based.
For the technical events such as hurdles, jumps and throws one knows that most athletes would have never been taught the skill from basics, hence working with skilled senior coaches lots of improvements are realised.
As one might have seen in one headline story, club athletes who compete throughout the year carried the days for the districts. Only a few events were won by non-club athletes. This is a worrying situation considering our Nash leaders are so result focused.
We need to embrace the process that brings the results. Athletes need to compete throughout the year to stand the heat at national competitions.
The other way of improving our results is having a deliberate talent scouting mentality in our schools. That is what those who succeed do. I am one person respected for leading the province an the nation to athletics glory, it was all out of knowing and recognising who can best bring the results.
I put up a formidable, experienced coaching team, Juma Phiri, Kenneth Nyape, James Rugwevera, Chris Mlizane, Benson Chauke, to mention but a few.
It is important to point out that some of these were not teachers, but one has to bring those that know — after all they coach some of our children all year round on a daily basis at club level.
Most of these and many other upcoming top-class coaches are available to coach in our school teams, we need to identify the right manpower to give us the right results.
Just imagine we have national record holders who are active coaches and yet we do not see them invited to be part of the schools, district, or even provincial coaching system.
My take home message to National Association of Primary Heads and Nash is once we are one, towards the development of sports in Bulawayo, we are going to reap the required results, and nothing beats the power of one.
These small little camps and divisions are what make us end up last at national competitions.
I thank Vusumuzi Mlilo and his team for putting up such a well organised event.
I pride myself when I see people learn and take the knowledge to a higher level.
Nash through Gambiza, please we are now in the right direction, let’s improve on this and do not lose focus when we start winning.
The strategic plan 2014–2016 is process driven, hence patience and hard work are a necessity at all levels.