THE African Union Sports Council is happy with the progress that Zimbabwe is making in preparation for hosting the African Union Sports Council Region V Youth Games to be hosted by Bulawayo in December.
FORTUNE MBELE/SUKOLUHLE MTHETHWA
Addressing journalists at a local hotel on Saturday afternoon, the regional organising committee (ROC) chairman Mvuzo Mbebe, who is also the African Union Sports Council secretary general said they are satisfied that the local organising committee (LOC) will be able to meet the September 30 deadline for handing over infrastructure to the region.
“There are three levels measuring the state of readiness of the country. Firstly: can the games happen in the country and that is determined by the following; that the country has the minimum infrastructure to host the games? Will the athletes have a comfortable place to stay in? Will athletes have the conducive environment where they sleep and what they eat.
“Secondly: Will the security of the games be there? Will we have supporting infrastructure in the form of accreditation, volunteers, various centres and a functional LOC and thirdly: Were the games great or not great? That is when we will look at if people attended the games and if they were exciting; the marketing, ticketing, publicity and so on.
“These are measured at various stages based on what we have seen and what we observed. We have been here for the last five days. As ROC we met the LOC and did an in-depth visit to each and every site and had meetings with sub committees and the chef de missions who arrived yesterday (Friday). We are satisfied with the level of progress and from they (LOC) started and now that the handover date will be not be varied,” Mbebe said.
Sites that have been visited include White City, Barbourfields and Luveve stadiums, the Bulawayo Athletics Club, Bulawayo Pool, the ZITF and Hillside Teachers College.
Mbebe said the LOC will have to up the game in terms of marketing and publicising the games.
Meanwhile, the games were officially launched at a local hotel on Saturday as the city prepares to host 15 countries.
Officially launching the games, Senior Minister of State in the Office of the President Simon Khaya Moyo expressed great expectation that the games will bring benefits to the country.
“The games will bring a mixed package of benefits for Zimbabwe in particular and the region at large. We look forward to refurbished and new sports infrastructure, increased sports tourism and boosting of business and jobs in Bulawayo as a result of the games.
“These benefits coincide with government’s blueprint ZimAsset whose thrust is to grow the economy, eradicate poverty and empower people through creating and recreational industries such as sport,” said Moyo.
He said the games will strengthen solidarity within the African Union and promote a community spirit and African unity.
Despite, Government having committed $9 million for infrastructure and $4,5 million for operations towards the games, Moyo called on stakeholders such as the private sector, NGO’s, churches and individuals to work together for the successful hosting of the games.
He emphasised on the need for good sportsmanship.
“Our theme as you have already have from the secretary general (Mvuzo Mbebe) and other speakers is “Reach for Greatness” and indeed during these games all of us must reach for greatness. We can only reach for greatness through educating sports persons on fair play, anti-doping, good sportsmanship and upholding the concept of safe sport,” he said.
Moyo said the games will enhance the image of sport among the community of Region V member countries in general and Zimbabwe in particular.
Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Andrew Langa reiterated Moyo’s sentiments saying the launch is meant to raise awareness and publicise Zimbabwe’s hosting of the Under-20 Youth Games.
He also added that government was committed to the successful hosting of the games and refurbishments at various venues were underway.