Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday called for Government-private sector co-operation to develop sport.
He said this at the official opening ceremony of the 15th edition of the Cana Zone IV Swimming and Water Polo Championship at the Bulawayo City Pool.
The VP said he was surprised to learn that Zimbabwe would be hosting the Cana Zone IV Swimming and Water Polo Championship and Bulawayo would be the main theatre for the event.
He said the realisation that the swimming facility renovated for the 2014 African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Games, which lies as a legacy to the people of Bulawayo, is the focal point was gratifying.
“I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Zimbabwe would be hosting a swimming event which would attract 13 countries, better still, was the recognition that the City of Kings and Queens would be the main theatre for the whole event,” said Vice President Mphoko.
He applauded the Bulawayo City Council for revamping the state-of-the-art facility handed over to them by the Government as part of the legacy project of the AUSC Region Five Games in preparation for the Cana event.
“It is through passionate efforts of this nature and magnitude and collaborations with the Government that we can only see our sport, particularly with aquatics, growing in this country. It is my hope that all the athletes gathered here will perform to the best of their ability,” he said.
VP Mphoko said it was events like these that give birth to future stars and it was the government’s hope that another swimming sensation would be unearthed at the championships.
“It is my conviction that the waters in Bulawayo will do us a favour by breeding another Kirsty Coventry for this nation and this great continent. With that in mind, the government of Zimbabwe has taken great strides in the realisation of such a noble goal by setting up structures such as sports academies to further high and podium performances by our athletes.
“It is also our Government’s view that sport will not prosper in isolation, but through corporate engagements and interactions for the furtherance of the cause of the industry,” said VP Mphoko.
The championships are being contested by 13 countries. In addition to the hosts Zimbabwe, other contestants are Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya and Tanzania are not part of Cana Zone IV, but are participating as guest countries.
Zimbabwe and South Africa are the only countries featuring in the water polo competition.
Zimbabwe came third at the last Cana Zone IV meet held in Mauritius in 2016.
Speaking at the same event, Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane said the Government has taken a deliberate stance to restructure development models of the sports and recreation sector to anchor it in the founding values of the nation made possible by the sacrifices of gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives for the peace and freedom being enjoyed in the country.
He said that labour for freedom created equal participation for all, especially in sporting disciplines such as swimming and water polo, which were historically reserved for the minority race during the colonial era.
“Therefore, as part of embracing the future, it would be a travesty if we failed to broaden the demographic inclusion of those who were historically marginalised from particular sporting activities. Due to that, as we all take part in this year’s edition of Cana IV Championships, we should honestly grapple with the introspective questions on the degree to which the aquatic sports sector can contribute to meaningful nation building,” said Hlongwane.
He said there is need to work diligently towards enhancing an inclusive leadership model for the development of aquatic sports in Zimbabwe and the region at large.
“We need to escalate our degree of introspection in this regard paying specific attention to the mammoth task upon us, as a sector, to broaden and democratise access to water sports as a whole.
“In this regard, I take this opportunity to indicate the ministry’s avid intention to engage all stakeholders within the aquatic sports sector with a view to collectively mapping a transformational template that will unleash the unlimited potential of our sector,” he said.