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Hockey preparations intensify

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The Zimbabwe men’s hockey team coach Bill Birkett Wednesday hailed the renewed interest in the sport as the country prepares to host the Africa Olympic Games qualifiers set for Bulawayo in September.

Government and the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee through the Olympic Solidarity funding have been trying to revive the sport.

“These are exciting times in local hockey. I haven’t been excited like this about the local sport in ten years, but that has all changed as we are preparing for the Africa Olympic qualifiers.

“It all started with the government pledging support in the relaying of astro turf at Khumalo and I’m happy with the progress that has taken place so far.

“The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee also secured funding for the team through the Olympic Solidarity program which is a huge boost for our preparations,” said Birkett.

Birkett who is also a technical expert will team up with Pakistani coaching expert KM Awais to conduct a technical course for 20 local coaches at the Olympic Sports Center at Prince Edward from June 25-July 22.

The course is being funded by the Olympic Solidarity to the tune of $10 000.00.

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee last month secured US$45 000 from the Olympic Solidarity to support the Zimbabwe senior men’s hockey team.

The funds will be channeled specifically towards the hockey team’s preparations for the Olympic Games qualifiers.

This was a bold step towards ensuring that Zimbabwe qualifies a team sport to the Olympics for the first time since 1980 when the women’s hockey team won a gold medal.

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture David Coltart, made a passionate appeal to cabinet for the release of the 1 million dollars which was needed for the refurbishment of Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo.

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