Zimbabwe Olympic Committee Athletes Commission chair bemoans lack of facilities for country’s athletes

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The lack of facilities and communication with athletes have been highlighted as “challenges” following a virtual meeting of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) Athletes Commission.

Speaking following the meeting, ZOC Athletes Commission chair Abel Chimukoko said athletes needed to be prioritised, in terms of the resources available and their welfare.

Points raised in the meeting included a lack of proper facilities for athletes, communication between national associations and athletes and the prioritisation of athletes as regards resources and their welfare, as reported by The Herald.

“Challenges remain on the state of facilities in Zimbabwe,” Chimukoko said.

“Athletes need certified stadiums to qualify for major games locally.

“There is a lack of communication, between athletes and their national federations, where athletes are deprived of information.

“Sport in Zimbabwe is currently at a low level, as proven by a single Olympic qualification, in-house fighting which results in cases at courts, and unnecessary clinging to power and overall poor administration where athletes are considered second after officials, which should be the opposite.

“Even, in terms of allowances, athletes should get the bigger share because they are the owners of sport.

“We will continue to educate athletes so that they understand their rights and responsibilities as well as the mandate of the Athletes’ Commission.

“They are there to work with their National Federations, not to fight against them.

“There should be a symbiotic relationship in order to succeed.”

Chimukoko, a long-distance runner who finished 48th in the men’s marathon at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, said the Athletes Commission will engage the Sports and Recreation Commission regarding the issues raised around a lack of facilities.

The virtual meeting attracted representatives from triathlon, basketball, shooting, taekwondo, archery, athletics, rugby, volleyball, hockey, handball, karate, netball, table tennis, women’s football, judo and boxing.It featured presentations around anti-doping and the coronavirus, in order to educate attendees in these areas.

ZOC Athletes Commission representatives also called on the Zimbabwean Government to allow more sporting disciplines and competitions to take place, following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Zimbabwe has reported more than 6,100 cases of coronavirus, including 166 deaths.

In the past 24 hours, there have been 126 reported new cases and 11 new deaths, while there are also around 1,000 active cases reported.

“Coronavirus is a natural disaster which no one has control over,” said Chimukoko.

“We just encouraged each other to be safe and to follow World Health Organisation safety guidelines.

“Athletes were encouraged to take up courses to prepare for life after sport and also to keep on training, especially running individually, for those in high risk sports.

“The Government allocated $10 million (£7.6 million/€8.4 million) as COVID-19 grants to sports and most athletes applied.

“We will continue to use online seminars, courses and meetings.

“We have also created a database for NFs Athletes’ Commissions so we can have continuous feedback from athletes.”

ZOC President Admire Masenda, and chief executive Anna Mguni also participated in the meeting.

National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe Athletes’ Commission chairperson Cuthbert Nyasango described the meeting as important and useful.

“It was very important because it was the first time we had that opportunity as athletes – as the Athletes Commission we just meet to discuss and heed the other side of the coin,” said Nyasango.

“It gave us a lot of information, ideas, what is expected from athletes and the function of the Athletes Commission.”