By Wellington Toni
15 August 2012
David Coltart, Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister, has admitted that sport funding must be a government priority, following the country’s Olympic Games failure in London.
His remarks on Twitter on Monday came after Zifa failed to send the Young Warriors to Angola to fulfill the second leg of the African Youth Championship over the weekend, leaving the national association at the mercy of the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
Zifa will be fined and a ban is likely.
The Olympic delegation to London comprised seven athletes and 18 officials and the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) had already taken the flak even before departure, for misplaced priorities where accompanying officials outnumbered competitors.
The seven athletes were Kirsty Coventry, Jamie Fraser McKenzie, Micheen Thornycroft, Chris Felgate and three marathon runners Sharon Tawengwa, Cuthberth Nyasango and Wirimai Zhuwawo.
None brought any medals.
In contrast, our smaller neighbours Botswana had five athletes and seven officials and Nijel Amos managed a silver medal in the 800m men’s final won by David Rudisha of Kenya.
But Coltart believes without funding, which must come from his inclusive government — the future of sports in the country is doomed.
And rightly so, and worse off in the case of Zifa, where its president Cuthbert Dube has to mortgage his own house for the sake of the Warriors without any government assistance.
Coltart said the starting point is to clean up the administration.
“We need to clean up the administration of sport, as much money is wasted and there is too much politics in sport which frustrates our stars.
“Unless we make sport a government funding priority, it will remain in the doldrums. Although corporate sector must help, the government must also fund,” he tweeted.
He added: “I am told that we have a superb Under-19 girls water polo side which will be competing in the Worlds in Australia in December; same squad in 2016?
“Also we need to think out of the box — what new sports are there? We can be strong at golf and sevens rugby both of which will be sports in 2016. We need to plan a national strategy. Who is likely to win medals? Where are they?
“What do they need now? Who are the best coaches? We need to start planning for Rio 2016 now.
“We have good marathon runners, rowers; Kirsty will produce more swimmers, and new sports e.g. golf.”
The minister, who has been so passionate about the revival of cricket, rugby and hockey in the country, said countries that invested more in sport attracted further investment.
“It is an interesting correlation between gross domestic product and Olympic medals. Countries which spend money on sport, win medals and then get further investment.
“I have noted the constructive criticism of some regarding Zimbabwe’s Olympic performance, and welcome it. Much work for the government and Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.”