Lack of funding kills athletics

Continuing failure by local athletes to make an impact on the international scene has left many wondering if the country is indeed a sporting nation.

Establish academies - Olie Chitate
Establish academies – Olie Chitate

There have been some outstanding Zimbabwean names in athletics. The likes of Stephen Muzhingi, Samukeliso Moyo, Rutendo Nyahora, and Prodigal Khumalo have made a great impact, yet we could have had more and made our presence felt at the Olympic Games.

The Zimbabwean recently spoke to veteran athletes, who blamed the country’s waning fortunes on a number of factors, especially lack of adequate funding and neglect of the grassroots.

Millen Matende – long distance runner

“Lack of sponsorship has forced talented athletes to shun the sport because there is no life in the sport. We have seen talented young athletes from various schools disappearing because the country lacks training equipment and there are no
proper facilities.

“The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe needs to urgently cast its net wider and not only rely on a few competitions that do not attract youngsters. The government also needs to intervene because without that, the future looks bleak.”

Lovemore Chabata –

utility runner

“The ministry responsible for sports needs to hold more talent identification programmes nationwide, like what Dairyboard used to do at growth points, because schools are no longer competing as seriously as we used to do. We also need some athletics academies in all provinces. “Lack of sponsorship remains our biggest problem, but youngsters need to be encouraged to try a life in athletics, from which they can make a living. Sponsorship without proper understanding of the sport would be useless. “

Chrispen Mutsa Jera – long distance runner

“Schools need to show pupils that there is life in athletics and that the sport can play an important role in society. Sports masters are the only people who spend time with up-coming athletes and need to be supported to help resuscitate the waning fortunes of the sport. I am also concerned with the way our athletics association is being run.

“Our administrators seem to know nothing about athletics and we need people who understand athletics to take over immediately, if we are to save the sport. We also need a vibrant marketing manager to source sponsorship and organise international trips to boost the morale of our athletes. Those running races out of the country are doing it on their own. The government only comes in to celebrate their success without helping realise it.”

Olie Chitate – short

distance runner

“We need to establish academies that will develop athletics from school level and there should be more competitions for schools to participate in. This will help youngsters realise that athletics is a profession. No one is to blame, but we need dedication from youngsters.”

Senator David Coltart, the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, blamed the under-funding of sport in the country. “In 2011, we had less than $1 per child per month to educate them, let alone provide for sports facilities,” he said. “In such a tight budgetary environment, it becomes hardly possible to support sport and until the political situation stabilizes and the economy begins to grow, this situation will continue.”

Post published in: Athletics

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