President opens Youth games 

Source: President opens Youth games | The Herald 01 AUG, 2019

President opens Youth gamesZimbabwe National Youth and Paralympic Games patron President Mnangagwa receives the flame at the 16th National Youth and Paralympic Games, while Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry looks on at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru yesterday. — Picture by Eliah Saushoma

Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
President Mnangagwa officially opened the 16th edition of the Zimbabwe National Youth and Paralympic Games during a colourful ceremony held at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru yesterday.

The President also lit the games torch signalling the start of the games which will run for two weeks in the Midlands capital. Over 3 000 athletes are battling it out in track, field, off-field competitions and ball games.

Addressing athletes, coaches, sport administrators, delegates and senior Government officials who graced the event, President Mnangagwa said the hosting of the games attests to the Government’s commitment to assist persons with physical and mental disabilities to achieve their full potential as obligated by the Constitution.

“This willingness is further expressed in our Vision 2030 which recognises that vulnerable groups such as people with physical challenges require special support to enable their participation and contribution towards Zimbabwe’s development.

“In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, all stakeholders are urged to continue to foster the development of all sporting disciplines in a manner that is inclusive and leaves no one behind. The encouragement and promotion of the participation of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities must also be prioritised,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the country, at every level, should embrace sport as a potential source of livelihood that can transform the nation into a sporting powerhouse by 2030.

He said traditionally sport was casual, relaxed and recreational, adding that it has, however, become more competitive, organised, marketed and complexly administered.

As such, President Mnangagwa said, sport has the potential to become a significant economic driver that precipitates value chain business activities, directly or indirectly contributing to the national economy.

“To achieve this aspiration, it is vital for the sporting fraternity to turn over a new leaf. The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation through the Sports and Recreation Commission are exhorted to promote a strategic vision with clearly laid out achievable milestones across all sporting disciplines. Such a vision should incorporate the needs of persons with disabilities.”

The President said sound management and good corporate governance practices must be adopted at all levels and that sports persons and administrators alike must facilitate the commercialisation of sport and the attendant value chains towards the national economic development and the attainment of Vision 2030.

He also called for stakeholders to undertake research and development into equipment design, dietary needs and other strategies that improve the sporting performance of people with disabilities.

President Mnangagwa said going forward, his Government under the Second Republic, will increase funding for the Zimbabwe National Youth and Paralympic Games to ensure that the participants are well-catered for in terms of accommodation, food and suitable transport among other requirements.

President Mnangagwa said the National Paralympics Games will empower the participants to realise their full potential as well as advocate against societal stigma towards people with disability.

He said Government had put in place a new curriculum which promotes sport as an integral part of our education system and will continue providing learners, young people and those living with disabilities with access and exposure to a broad array of sporting disciplines.

President Mnangagwa took time to congratulate the Zimbabwe National Netball Team (the Gems) for their impressive performances at the recently ended 2019 Netball World Cup.

“We commend them for flying the Zimbabwe flag high. In the same breath, I exhort all those responsible for the country’s footballs administration to put in place comprehensive strategies to improve the sport, across all level,” he said.

Also in attendance were the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry and the Minister of National State Security Owen Ncube.