MATABELELAND North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema has urged business operators in the province to tap into vast opportunities set to arise from the upcoming National Youth Games to be held in Hwange this month, where an estimated 17 000 guests are expected to attend.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Speaking at a preparatory meeting for the games on Friday, Mathema said the games, scheduled for August 11 to 17, should be viewed as a business opportunity.
“Matabeleland people, this is your opportunity to make money,” he said.
“Whatever business you have in mind, be it airtime, considering that we are hosting a historic event.”
Mathema said there was need for a mutual buy-in from the business community and residents in order for the games to be a success.
“These games are going to be successful only if we team up,” he said.
“Sport is business, sport is money and sport is health and it is becoming part of development agenda and government is committed to the success of these games, however, they will not be successful without your support as the business community and general public, therefore, l appeal to you that with your support we will go a long way together.”
Sport and Recreation minister Makhosini Hlongwane concurred, saying: “These games have a huge economic benefit and if we don’t embrace this opportunity, we will suffer in areas where we shouldn’t be suffering.
“Locals should understand the value of sport in business. For instance, there is a lot of money in betting and if you look at that you can start such a business as it is neutral and non-politic.”
Hlongwane said the coal rich mining town had good sporting facilities from swimming, golf, tennis to football that needed to be spruced up.
“We have limited time remaining before the games start, but we can spruce up the facilities, we are so amazed at the type of infrastructure that is here, especially in Hwange and some of it we have never seen anywhere across the country,” he said.
“Workers need recreation and if you have such facilities, you won’t have challenges of strikes because sport is a tonic for stress.
“Starting this year, National Youth Games will be very serious, we want them to be mini Olympics to produce the best athletes.
“Let us makes sure we are a laboratory for talent, as this is the best business for those who know how to position themselves.”
The games are running from August 11 to 17 under the theme Inspiring National Development Through Talent Identification, Talent Development and Excellence in Sport and Recreation.