The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
THE Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation is set to embark on a programme to refurbish sporting facilities as the country gears up to host major regional and international tournaments.
Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Yeukai Simbanegavi revealed that her ministry was on the path of restoring the sports and recreation image and focus would be on turning sporting infrastructure into multi-purpose facilities.
Speaking at the launch of the Tour de Great Dyke cycling event on Wednesday in Darwendale, Simbanegavi said the ultimate aim was to ensure Zimbabwe has high chances of winning bids for major sporting events.
“It is a new dawn in my Ministry, currently we are restoring the sport and recreation image of our country through refurbishing and developing sport and recreation facilities into multi-purpose sport and recreation facilities.
Upon completion, the multi-purpose infrastructure will fortify our chances to bid and host major regional and international tournaments which upon granted will bring along multifaceted sport business.
The foresight of a new sport and recreation image resonates well with our President’s mantra of Zimbabwe becoming a middle income country by 2030.”
Simbanegavi said the ministry will engage the corporate world to support the sport and recreation industry towards the improvement of the facilities, leagues, sport economics and in the setting up of a functional sport and recreation industry which will produce sporting equipment and accessories.
Zimbabwe last played host to a major sporting event in 1995 when the 6th edition of the All Africa Games were held here.
The country has also hosted various Zone VI sporting competitions although mostly would be single disciplines while in 2014 the country played host to the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games.
Zimbabwe was awarded the rights to host the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations but the rights were later withdrawn with Caf citing the country’s lack of preparedness in terms of infrastructure and Government guarantees.
Zimbabwe made attempts to bid to host the continent’s top sporting showcase but all efforts fell flat with the country again being denied the privilege to have the Afcon finals played here in 2004 and 2010.
Zifa made yet another bid for the 2017 finals in 2014 but Caf had indicated only those who had hosted the event in the past 10 years would be considered due to the limited time frame.
In 2014, former Zifa vice-president, Ndumiso Gumede, who had been involved in the 2000 bid said once that right was taken away, work to improve Sakubva and Mucheke stadiums stopped with no work being done to improve the state of the infrastructure.
Stadiums are one of the major areas that organisers of events look at when considering bids from various countries and Government guarantees.