SPORTS administrators in the City of Kings have welcomed the Cabinet approval for the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province to host the Africa Zone VI 2014 Youth Games in December, saying the move would leave a lasting sporting legacy for the city.
By Fortune Mbele
Bulawayo will be hosting the Sadc youth games in December next year, just over a year after the city hosts the second Zimbabwe National Youth Games in August this year.
Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) co-ordinator for the province Sam Dzvimbu lauded the government for the gesture, saying the hosting of the regional games will return Bulawayo to its national status as the sporting hub of the country.
“This is great news! It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is going to leave mass legacies in terms of sporting infrastructure in the city.
“It is a turning point in terms of sporting culture within Bulawayo and it must take us back to the olden days of Bulawayo as the sporting hub of the country. The first port of call for our athletes is the August Youth Games. They need to do their best to be part of the national team next year and look forward to better things to come.
“I am encouraging parents to let the kids take part in sports as we head to the regional showcase in the city next year,” Dzvimbu said.
Matabeleland Amateur Swimming Board chairman Eddie Cyprianos also welcomed the move and said his association thrust from now will be to scout for talent in the western suburbs. He was hopeful one or two swimmers from there would make it to the national team.
“It is means quite a lot for the city and it is very exciting. We were not expecting to host such and we look forward to the commencement of the games. It means that our swimmers have to work hard to be in the national team and we hope to attract swimmers from the western areas.
“We are hoping that by the time we will have one or two swimmers coming from those areas,” Cyprianos said.
Zifa Bulawayo Province Junior League chairman Mkhululi Mthunzi gave the thumbs-up to the idea of sporting facilities in the city being spruced up for the games.
“Football cannot develop if there are no facilities. We have the national youth games coming up and development is on course. We have quite a number of boys from the city who have represented the country in the Under-20s and Under-13s. We are solidifying the pace in development and we are going into schools and want to create a database of players in that area,” Mthunzi said.
The junior football association is fresh from successfully hosting the Benjani Mwaruwari Under-16 Youth Festival at White City Stadium. Mthunzi said they had set up a technical committee of coaches tasked with identifying talent in schools in the city.
Some of the coaches include Warriors legend Agent Sawu, Cosmas Zulu, Mark Mathe and Sakheleni Nxumalo, among others.
Joe Mujuru, the Bulawayo Basketball Association secretary is also over the moon about the games coming to the City of Kings.
“The games come at the right time. As basketball we have not hosted an international tournament in a long time in Bulawayo. This is the best time to be getting proper facilities to an international level. Much interest will definitely be generated from the Youth Games in August to the Zone VI Youth Games and it is going to bring in a lot of eyes especially in the corporate world for the sport of basketball,” Mujuru said.
Government will be investing $42 million in sprucing up sporting facilities in the city for the games following Cabinet’s approval for Bulawayo host the regional games.
Barbourfields, Luveve and White City stadia are some of the facilities that will be upgraded, including facilities at the National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo Polytechnic, Hillside Teachers’ College and in various schools in the city.
ZRP Drill Hall, the Large City Hall, Bulawayo Club For the Disabled, Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo Pool and ZRP Ross Camp will be spruced up.