Sport Economy accelerates enthusiasm in sport, drives tourism

21 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Sport Economy accelerates  enthusiasm in sport,  drives tourism

The Sunday News

Nkosilathi Sibanda, Online Reporter

WHEN town planners made up the present settlements in Bulawayo, there was a deliberate move to establish sports, recreational spaces and youth centres.

The idea worked well.

From Makokoba, Luveve, Mzilikazi, Mpopoma, Pumula, Iminyela, Mabutweni and the rest of the first suburbs that made up the city, a youth centre, with full sporting facilities, was a common and popular place.

Every young person who dreamt of a future in sports, arts and hospitality knew where to go.

At one time and for a long while, the city wore the pride of being the country’s “melting pot” of sports and culture.

The title came about from how the city’s settlements were planned and organised, in a manner that talent in the fields of sports and arts were identified, sharpened and went on to be the country’s brand ambassadors.

One would be spoilt for choice in partaking in football, athletics, basketball, netball, tennis and boxing. Even the little recognised “traditional” or ‘indigenous games such as morabaraba, draught and umatshayana had an impact on the community.

What stands out from the rich sports culture in the city, is that it has somehow been pivotal in promoting tourism.

In a bid to use sport in driving the local tourism industry, the City of Bulawayo last year launched what it calls the “Sports Economy”

Last Friday, the city held an exhibition, in which various sporting codes displayed their craft to members of the public.

Sporting codes at the show included boxing, pickleball, badminton, karate and tug-of-war, which were all demonstrated at the City Hall Car Park.

The city’s Economic Development Officer, Mr Kholisani Moyo, said the idea was driven by the need to accelerate enthusiasm in sport and also drive tourism.

“We want to position the city as a hub for sport. We looked at the benefits that can be derived if we promote sport, for example, the issue of employment and making sure that young people have something to do, instead of engaging in drug abuse. If they do sport, they can also earn a living.

“We also looked at the aspect of tourism. If we promote the sports economy, it will also boost tourism in the city. The whole idea, we have seen that it has a lot of benefits. Last year, we had some football teams like Dynamos playing in Bulawayo. Each time they came to the city, all our accommodation facilities were fully booked, as some people from Harare and all over the country came to watch football. We also want all other sporting disciplines to contribute to the city’s economy, especially in the tourism sector. In short, the sports economy has benefits to other industries,” said Moyo.

Mthandazo Ngwenya from the city’s Economic Development Office also added to that they had to concentrate on sport codes that are usually not taken up by the public.

“The sports economy exhibition is a city of Bulawayo initiative, which is a vehicle to economic freedom for the city, where the objective is to leverage sports that are either new, forgotten or overlooked. The idea is to create an economic ecosystem where different sporting codes cross-pollinate ideas to build economic value chains and create avenues for economic prosperity.

“It is a way to focus on alternate economies to create a multiplier effect on the whole economy. The other gain for the sports economy is sports tourism, which is a catalyst to the growth of the local economy,” said Ngwenya.

Cricket, soccer and schools sports boast the largest numbers of movers between centres during their seasons there by impacting on local economies. — @NkosieLegend

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