The Power of Sport Can bring us out of Poverty as well as Unite us.

Zimbabwe has in the past years produced great sportsmen and women who have gone on to fly the country’s flag high in the international sporting arena. Among them is the swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry, the Blacks, Bruce Grobbelar, Nick Price, and Peter Ndlovu.

What I have come to realise is that within our great city of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe at large there is plenty of raw and untapped ability that needs to be nurtured and youths happen to possess these abilities. Once nurtured, Zimbabwe will produce the next generation of the above mentioned sports personnel and will be able to compete with some of the leading nations in sports and give them a good run for their money.

Engaging in sporting activities can help curb the level of substance abuse and crime in our communities as the youths engage in these activities as pastime. In his election manifesto, the then aspiring ZIFA board member Ernest ‘Maphepha’ Sibanda, was quoted in the Saturday Trends of 13/03/10 as having said

“a nation that does not fully tap and exploit the football skills of its youths is bound to be doomed as the latter are the corner stone of the future”.

Not only can this be applied to football but to other sports as well. This is where I would call upon the refurbishment of youth centres in the western areas including other sports facilities such as the Barber Fields and Luveve swimming pools. Some sports clubs in the eastern areas should be revived as well as be marketed.

The Minister of education, sports , arts and culture senator David Coltart has more often than not, talked about the need for schools to broaden their curriculum and take sports more serious because gone are the days when sports were associated with the not so academic people. After all sports is a big industry worth more than US$15 billion annually.

Imagine for just a moment, the millions earned by sports such as football, golf, motor racing (Formula 1) basket ball, and American football. At the same time acknowledging that Zimbabwe has not yet reached those standards but has more than the potential to do so looking for instance at the world class talent it has in the Cricket, Athletics fields. Minister Coltart went on further to state that his ministry will identify schools that are going to be centres of excellence and academies for both sports and arts hence youths are called upon to take advantage of this impending great opportunity as a sustainance and development tool to better the communities and societies in which we live.
Youths can lead or spearhead such processes as they are often referred to as the leaders of today for a better tomorrow. What I have come to realise over the past few years is that sport is a very powerful tool that can be or is used to achieve certain objectives and as such should not be underestimated.

Firstly governments worldwide have decided to use sport as an initiative to promote a healthy and active society with youths being at the centre of such a noble initiative. Secondly, sport is also being used to create networking opportunities for the promotion of peace and harmony and this was seen when the NYDT through its sports desk organised a sporting event in 2009 where teams from political parties i.e. MDC, MDC-T, ZANU-PF and the recently revived ZAPU competed against each other in various sporting disciplines and the participants truly enjoyed themselves. It is my hope however that the top leadership of these respective political parties learnt something about what the event sought to achieve.

Another example is that of Turkey and Armenia where relations between the two nations had been frosty for years. The leaders of both nations decided that it was wise mend their fences and one of the methods adopted was sport where a friendly match was played between the two respective nations.

Have you ever noticed that during the opening ceremony of the Olympic games it has become a tradition to release doves? A dove is a symbol of peace and that Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) broadcast a message of peace? Thirdly, sports help build and bring communities together and this will help foster or instil a culture of tolerance e.g. tolerating one’s political views and opinions and one’s need to belong to a political party other than yours. When this becomes the case, youths being the future of the nation will shake off or get rid of this primitive notion that has dogged African politics over the past decades.
Sports can also be used to educate people for instance to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. Some schools are taking sports seriously as part of the curriculum and this helps foster discipline and a spirit of teamwork which youths shall need later in their lives.
As the 2010 world cup raps up in South Africa, its my hope that the unity that brought Africa together to support African teams especially the Black Stars in the quarter finals will live on and serve as a lesson of ubuntu , true humanity. Reports of xenophobic attacks likely to take place after the showcase must be despised with the utter disgust they deserve because true Africans have shown that they can truly unite for the same cause. Let us use sport to develop and unite our young people and our nations.
Njabulo Tazibona is Youth Counsellor for Ward 4 and is a regular contributor to the BYC blog and other related publications.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by bulawayoyouthcouncil on July 16, 2010 at 10:15 am

    in as much a this is good encouragement for youths, the city fathers should do something about the state of youth facilities as they are places where young people can network and develop their skills. this is in the light that as much as school goers are concerned, they are better off coz they engage in sporting activities as part of the school curriculum,but schooldropouts and school leavers need these facilities


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