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Comment: Govt must support sports

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Early this week we carried a report that the Ministry of Public Works had turned down a request by the National Youth Games’ Local organising committee (LOC) to use the National Sports Stadium (NSS) for its opening ceremony.

The reason given by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Works Prince Mupazviriho was that the stadium was already booked by another organisation, which obviously has nothing to do with sport.

The confusion shows that the ministry does not have the best interest of sport at heart, in the same manner it exposes LOC for being highly disoriented.

How on earth could they fail to book the NSS on time and wait until at the last minute as if they doubted their capabilities to hold the games anyway?

Due to the confusion exhibited by LOC, the ministry booked the facility to other people, who have already paid and they could not waive payment of the hire.

The ministry needs the revenue to maintain the standards that are commensurate with a national sports stadium. It is also a fact that the stadium is not hired for free, hence the failure by LOC to make advance booking is tantamount to abrogating its duties; but now they want to shift the blame to the ministry. No ways!

Holding the opening ceremony of the event at the NSS would not only have given the games an international feel but it would have also played a huge role in inspiring the young athletes.

The NSS is iconic and exposing youths especially from the rural areas surely inspires them.

A national event like the National Youth Games which is meant to stimulate mass participation in sport should be given its due respect.

This is a platform for identifying talent which will eventually find its way into the national team for regional and international competitions.

While it is good that the ministry wants to commercialise the facility, it is regrettable that they are contemptuous of a vital national event.

The facility should be returned to the supreme sports’ governing body, the Sports and Recreation Commission, as was the case in the past.

There is no reason why the opening ceremony of a huge event like the National Youth Games should be held at a small place like the City Sports Centre.

The action by the ministry gives the impression that government is not committed to the development of sport.

It is in the best interest of the country to showcase the National Youth Games as they provide a platform to feature the young talent scattered around the country.

The fact that the NSS is of international standard will not only benefit the young talent but will ensure times recorded during the competitions especially the track and field events to be recognised.

Using second string facilities will result in athletes’ times useless.

It is baffling that the LOC chose to delay until the last minute when Ministry of Public Works gave priority to non–sport events in a sporting facility.

The ministry can only do that in the event that there is no important sporting event provided that Local sporting administrators take the lead in what is expected of them.

There is need to give sport the respect it deserves no wonder events like the World Cup are very popular. Sport is now a “profession” and gone are days where people would treat the discipline as part time.

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