Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
SPORTS associations have challenged the Sport and Recreation Commission to do more than just give orders if the envisaged turnaround in the way sport is administered across the board in Zimbabwe is to attain levels of professionalism. This comes after Sports Commission director for sport development Joseph Muchechetere early this week said there is need for national associations to at least have offices, membership and a secretariat for their day-to-day operations.
Muchechetere said they are currently working with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation and the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to map the way forward and ensure that the associations with no places to operate from can have offices at the National Sports Stadium.
Although the associations agree with the approach which the supreme sports body want to take, they have indicated that they would also want the commission to assist by providing the resources such as sports facilities that already exist.
Zimbabwe Karate Union president Joe Rugwete said there is still a lot that needs to be done by all parties involved including the Government. “We agree that a paradigm shift that points towards professionalism is indeed required.
“The national sport associations are in a dilemma because the country is under sustained economic sanctions which have affected Government, the corporate world and the general public from which they draw membership. What this means is that there is limited funding from all three sectors mentioned above.
“Government will prioritise social services, corporate sponsors will focus on their businesses and the general people are struggling to have three decent meals in a day. That means without external intervention, the national associations are not capacitated to rent offices and employ permanent secretariats.
“National sport associations receive funding from their governments in other countries. In Zimbabwe the opposite is true — NSA must fund Government through collecting sportsmen levies on behalf of the SRC from their poor members,” Rugwete said.
Zimbabwe Aquatic Union president Mary Kloppers said although it was the ideal situation funding was the problem since most people in sport are just volunteers.
“For aquatics it is impossible to go and rent a premise even if its SRC offices. Every single board member has a full-time job. With the current technology we don’t need to have someone sitting physically in an office. I cannot see how having someone sitting in an office is going to promote sport.
“It is the ideal situation to employ a full time administrator . . . it makes our life easier but funds are not there. We cannot afford to pay someone. I think the Government is struggling as anyone else. We have to be realistic,” said Kloppers.
Zimbabwe Volleyball Association president Frederick Ndlovu said taking into account the economic challenges the country is facing there is need for the Sports Commission to avail the already existing facilities and resources for national associations to meet the requirements.
“I think given the challenges we have whether it’s the Sports Commission or national federation to me what I think Government and SRC can assist with is to at least provide an office and officer for a start. So that to a larger extent we can take people away from operating from the backyard.
“Avail the resources and facilities that are already there before we even start talking about grants. Let’s start small, that’s my message, we can’t start big but eventually we will get there,” said Ndlovu.
Hockey Association of Zimbabwe president Humphrey Chigwedere said they are already in the process of consulting with the relevant authorities. “In fact, we discussed this issue when it was first brought up at the SRC quarterly meetings. We support that it’s a very good idea as an association. As an association we have started inquiring about the offices.
“I think what Government can do now is to give us reasonable charges, if any, to rent those offices because we are struggling, we don’t have money, we can’t afford to pay commercial rents.
“The only challenge is the members we are hoping to attract, some are not even employed themselves. So it will be difficult to levy them. Like for hockey we have encouraged our clubs to be professionally run but the issue of funds is difficult because we are dealing with kids who cannot afford to pay to play hockey,” said Chigwedere.
National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Tendai Tagara said the Sports Commission must lead the way.
“It’s the SRC that should get the ball rolling by creating a conducive environment for national associations. We have no problem in paying rent at the National Sports Stadium but they have to negotiate with the owners, it’s a Government infrastructure and we want to pay something reasonable.
“We want sports facilities to be accessible and affordable . . . For athletics we have no problem, we have a fully fledged secretariat which we pay and we are currently working on establishing two regional offices in Harare and in Bulawayo,” said Tagara.
Tagara, however, said while national associations expect the Government to assist them they have to be innovative so that they can fund their programmes.