Zim forced to downsize African Games team

Coventry yesterday revealed that her ministry was forced to downsize their athletes delegation due to Ghana’s lack of preparedness in terms of facilities.

SPORTS minister Kirsty Coventry yesterday handed over national blazers and officially unveiled the African Games-bound Team Zimbabwe during a ceremony in Harare.

The African Games will run from March 8 to 23 in Accra, Ghana. Zimbabwe is sending 83 athletes across 10 sport codes.

These include cricket (men and women’s teams), athletics, karate, swimming, rugby, judo, triathlon, cycling, tennis and chess.

Coventry yesterday revealed that her ministry was forced to downsize their athletes delegation due to Ghana’s lack of preparedness in terms of facilities.

“We know that it was a little bit disappointing for some athletes not to be on the team. We have also selected athletes with podium performances and certain sports that we know could also potentially qualify for the Paris Games and we are really looking forward to seeing our athletes competing,” Coventry said.

“Congratulations to all the athletes. It is very exciting that what was supposed to happen last year is finally happening. I know that it’s been a long wait and it’s been as frustrating for all of you as for us.

“Ghana is a little bit behind and what we did at the beginning of the year was that I sent the director-general of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), my director of sport and the permanent secretary to Ghana in January to review and see which facilities were actually ready hence the team (that we are sending now).

“We did have a much bigger team with a much larger number, but in order to ensure that we can be responsible for ensuring that our athletes are taken care of, we only chose sports we know had full confirmation that the facilities were ready.”

Cricket will debut at this year’s edition of the Africa Games and Zimbabwe will be presented by both men and women.

“The facilities of the sports codes which we are sending, bar maybe cricket, are up to standard. My understanding is the players and Zim Cricket know the grounds. We saw grounds that were not really up to standard, but the cricketers are willing to go anyway, so please know that there may be a few hiccups at the beginning of the games, be patient,” Coventry added.

“Ghana have said they are ready to welcome everyone as I said the facilities that we have seen that we have selected I believe are ready we waiting on a few confirmations regarding cycling and the routes that are yet to be confirmed, but let’s go in with the best intentions and have fun, enjoy yourselves, be proud Zimbabweans and do the best that you can.”

Meanwhile, Coventry was apoplectic with anger towards SRC’s lack of organisation.

Coventry, the most decorated African Olympian, was not amused at the sports supreme governing body’s ignorance towards the most basic etiquette.

She, however, implored the same SRC to hold athletes accountable in Ghana just as she did to them.

“This is not a very good start, sports department, SRC, technical team ... I know that the chef de mission is not here, do we have duty chef de mission? We have two, but no one seems to know what to be doing right now, very embarrassing isn’t it?,” charged Coventry.

“Please hold the team accountable, this is what I have done today. This is very disappointing to see this level of organisation.”

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