The hosts of the ninth National Youth Games edition — Matabeleland South Province — have declared to exploit home advantage in their quest to emerge champions in all sporting disciplines during the games.
The games kick off in Gwanda on August 14 next week and the host athletes went into camp at Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo High School in West Nicholson yesterday.
Mandla Donga, general manager of the province , told NewsDay Sport yesterday they were geared up for the games.
“We believe that we will do our level best in the games. We have tried to identify the best athletes whom we think can bring us honours. We are at home, so other provinces should expect stiff competition from us,” he said.
A total of 178 athletes will represent the province in netball, basketball, volleyball, handball, tennis, boxing, athletics and football. Donga bemoaned the reduction of the number of boxers participating in the province.
“We only have four boxers representing us in the sport. We were supposed to have 10 boys and six girls, but we have a challenge because boxing is not done at school level and we have to rely on Gwanda boxing stable. We have also been affected by the age groups because participants have to be only those from the years 1993-1995 not 1992-1995,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matabeleland North province team begins camp at George Silundika High School today. 160 athletes and 48 officials will represent the province.
Sports and Recreation Commission coordinator for Matabeleland South Permanent Sibanda yesterday said they were hopeful they would perform better.
“We are sending few athletes to the games because we only want to send those who are medal hopefuls. We performed badly in the games over the years, but we are confident we will perform better because we have a strong team,” he said.