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Coltart issues directive

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Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart has said the senior national mens team, the Warriors, must play their games across the country instead of Harare alone.

This directive is among a raft of orders sent to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) chairman Joseph James to be implemented by all registered national associations in a letter titled: Proposed Directions in Terms of Section 23 of the SRC Act: Equitable Distribution of International Sporting Activities.

While other big sports, rugby and cricket, play across the country, Zimbabwes most loved sport football has seen its flagship, the Warriors, playing either at Rufaro or the National Sports Stadium (NSS).

The two stadiums, along with Barbourfields in Bulawayo and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane, have been certified fit to host international matches by the Confederation of African football (Caf).

Mandava has the next best facilities in the country after the NSS, Rufaro and Barbourfields.

The Bulawayo venue last hosted the Cosafa Senior Challenge in 2010, having earlier hosted a dead rubber Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi.

But in a communication with the SRC, in a letter dated June 21, Coltart wanted immediate changes to the current system.

For some time I have been concerned about what I perceive as an inequitable distribution of international sporting fixtures in Zimbabwe.

For example, the Warriors have not played outside of Harare for some time, thus depriving football supporters throughout Zimbabwe of the opportunity to watch the national team.

I recognise that only certain facilities are acceptable for international events and to that extent only certain stadia can be used. This will be taken into account in the formulation of the directives.

My intention is that this directive should take effect from the 1st of August 2012.
Coltarts proposed directives are:

All sports associations recognised by the SRC will immediately advise the SRC of the venues which are accepted/recognised for international fixtures by the relevant international sporting body. For example, I believe that the National Sport Stadium, Rufaro and Barbourfields are the only grounds which meet Fifa specifications and so, in future, matches should be held alternately and evenly at all three of these grounds.

With effect from 1st August 2012, the SRC shall only authorise international sporting events (in terms of Section 19(d) of the SRC Act) on condition that all sporting associations hold all matches involving representative Zimbabwean teams, including both friendly and official matches, at all internationally accepted venues on an equitable and alternating basis.

For the avoidance of doubt, in any calendar year matches should be evenly spread amongst all internationally accepted venues. For example, in every calendar year, Zifa will have to ensure that the Warriors and Mighty Warriors play an equal number of matches each at the National Sports Stadium, Rufaro and Barbourfields. Ideally matches should be held systematically and sequentially at all venues.

If financial considerations demand that a particular series be held at one venue (and because of that, an even distribution of matches at all venues cannot be achieved in that calendar year) then the SRC must only grant permission for future series in subsequent years if the relevant sports association holds any subsequent series at a different venue. In other words, there must also be equitable sharing of sporting series as well as individual matches.

The purpose behind these directives is to ensure national equity and fairness. The current problem is that virtually all matches in some disciplines are played in Harare. If we are to build national support for all sporting disciplines and a national sense of pride, our national teams must be seen by as many Zimbabweans as possible throughout the nation.

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