MUTARE– Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the 13th edition of Zimbabwe National Youth games here amid calls for parents to embrace sport.
He said sport is a better alternative for youths who are lured by ill mischief and violence, urging youths to actively participate in sport.
Mnangagwa hailed sport as providing “positive alternatives to idleness” and taking “children and the youth away from mischief and violence”.
Mnangagwa also said government’s creation of a stand-alone Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture was a clear demonstration of its commitment to sport, as he called for stakeholders to ensure the ministry fulfilled its mandate.
He also urged the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture to create programmes which can turn around the sector.
“Government alone cannot take us to the ‘promised land’ as there is need for all stakeholders to work closely with the new ministry so as to ensure that we reap the benefits that abound in sport”.
“As a ministry, roll out tangible programmes and initiatives to turn around the sport sector into a vibrant industry which will create employment and viable enterprises that can contribute towards improved livelihoods, economic development and empowerment”.
To the participants of the youth games Mnangagwa gave a stern warning against taking performance-enhancing drugs.
“I would like to caution young sportsmen and women against taking steroids and other performance-enhancing substances which, not only feed into the cancerous scourge of cheating, but also violate the value of fair play.
“If you have to become a champion, let it be a result of honest hard work and strict compliance with the rules and regulations of sport,” he said.
More than 3,500 athletes and officials from different provinces will converge in Mutare for the annual sporting festival which runs from 15 until August 23.
Local Organising Committee Chief Executive, Cosmas Chiringa last week confirmed that all was set for the games with participants who had already in the city as he allayed fears that there could be a shortage of food during the Games.
“As LOC Manicaland, I can safely say we are ready to host the event. Everything is now in place.
“Accommodation for athletes and officials is already in place, while the venues where the Games will be held have been spruced up.
“We really want to thank all those who supported us by donating generously towards the event. Companies and individuals in Manicaland and beyond have been very co-operative and I think we should thank them for their sense of responsibility against the background of the harsh economic conditions.
“However, we also continue to implore all those who can donate to do so, especially in terms of vehicles that can be used to ferry participants from one place to the other during the seven-day long event,” said Chiringa.
Participants during the annual multi-sport discipline event compete in a total of eight sporting disciplines that include soccer, athletics, handball, boxing, tennis, netball, volleyball and basketball.
For the first time in the 12-year history of the Zimbabwe National Youth Games, an eleventh provincial team from Mozambique – Team Manica – will partake in the 2015 ZNYG.
Team Manica, which made up of players and officials from Mozambique’s Manica Province, will feature in this year’s edition of the annual multi-sports discipline event upon the invitation of Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Mandi Chimene.