Coventry backs Special Olympics team ahead of Germany Games Kirsty Coventry

Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter

MINISTER of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, has pledged her full support to Zimbabwe’s Special Olympics team set to compete at the World Games in Germany this month.

The Special Olympics World Games are due to take place from June 17 to 25 in Berlin.

Coventry, who was the guest of honour at the send-off ceremony held at Prince Edward School in Harare yesterday, said the aim of her Ministry was to present equal opportunities in sport and ensure inclusivity for people of all backgrounds and different physical abilities.

She said this in a speech read on her behalf by chief director in the Ministry, Benson Dube.

“As you are aware, our government is very supportive of sport, giving equal opportunity to the sports men and women of the country including those with disabilities.

“These are steps towards inclusivity and leaving no place and no one behind as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1.

“The athletes here today are all young people, some in school and some out of school and as the youth are also part of my portfolio within the Ministry. I am happy to see these two marrying closely together.

“Supporting youth participation in activities such as sport improves their physical and mental health as well as bringing joy and opportunities such as this participation at the world stage of sport,” said Coventry.

The send-off ceremony was also graced by Special Olympics Zimbabwe board chairperson Innocent Matibiri, Deputy Ambassador Michael Ott representing the German Embassy in Harare, director of sport and recreation in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Eugenia Chidhakwa, Sports and Recreation Commission director-general Eltah Nengomasha and family members of the athletes.

The Zimbabwe’s Special Olympics team is hopeful of raising the country’s flag high at the event.

Zimbabwe are sending a delegation of 31 including 12 athletes who will compete in athletics, bocce and golf. The team is expected to leave for Germany this weekend.

Some of the delegates are scheduled to attend parallel programmes to run during the Games such as the Global Youth Leadership Summit and the Global Athlete Leadership Congress.

A send-off ceremony for the team was held yesterday at Prince Edward School.

National director for Special Olympics Zimbabwe Lillian Chikara is the head of delegation and will be assisted by Daphane Hove.

Chikara said the road to Berlin has not been easy and was grateful for the opportunity to be representing the country and for the support they got from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture.

“The road to Berlin hasn’t been easy… covid-19 came and derailed things a bit. So, for two years we were not really participating on the ground.

“But we thank God 2022, covid-19 died down and our teams organised themselves at provincial level. So there were provincial competitions, then we came to the national level. We held our national games in April last year.

“The winners, according to Special Olympics tradition are picked randomly because Special Olympics is an all-opportunities programme and it doesn’t mean you are a fast runner, sharpshooter… but you compete within your section because our aim in Special Olympics is to have fun and have games, and to enjoy the sport.

“So, the opportunity is for everybody,” said Chikara.

In their last participation at the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Games, Team Zimbabwe won 15 medals.

Team Zimbabwe

Athletics: Tinaye Hlangabezi, Modester Kapamutengo, Brenda Gambiza, Tadiwanashe Ndoro.

Coach: Taurai Muboko.

Assistant coach: Tabeth Sibanda.

Bocce: Angeline Goremusandu, Tariro Mutosvori.

Head Coach: Maita Nyarota.

Assistant coach: Berita Phiri.

Golf: Daniel Musekiwa, Lloyd Dube (partner), Sharon Gosa, Kaylynn Chikara, Faith Mavhunga, Hilda Kamalizeni (partner).

Head coach: Simon Murungweni.

Assistant coach: Dadirai Nyamhandu.

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