YOUTH, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry yesterday provided the perfect response to the unacceptable madness that saw our Warriors being barred from training at the National Sports Stadium on Thursday.
The minister, a successful world-class athlete who remains the country’s and Africa’s finest Olympian, knows the value of preparations in athletes’ quest for success and why this should always be prioritised.
She also knows that what athletes ultimately deliver is the product of a chain of events preceding a tournament, and the better the preparations, the better the chances of success.
Steve Kwashi, the former championship-winning coach of Premiership side CAPS United, used to tell the media back in his days at the Green Machine: “Ff you fail to prepare you should prepare to fail.”
For the Warriors, in particular, the time for them to get together and go through all their drills is usually limited because FIFA says clubs can only release players, at least, five days before an international assignment.
This means time becomes a priority for their preparations and, for a team with so many new players drafted for this mission against the Congolese, every minute counts.
The events at the National Sports Stadium on Thursday where the Warriors were barred from using the facility for their training session were simply unacceptable and have fittingly provoked outrage among the fans and authorities.
Whichever way one looks at this case, there is nowhere anyone can sanitise such madness, justify the actions of those rogue officials who stopped the team from getting into the stadium and find any sense in such anti nation-building conduct.
It smacks of sabotage, on a grand scale, and in some countries such people are hauled before authorities and even sent to prison for working against the interests of a country.
It becomes even difficult not to believe those who have been whispering that there could be some individuals, including those tasked with managing national institutions like the National Sports Stadium, who are trying to ensure the Warriors don’t win tomorrow.
It’s difficult to brush aside such views because there are some people who have become very anti-Zimbabwe and don’t want to see this country smiling because they believe that will work against their grand interests, political or otherwise.
They know what success for the Warriors will mean tomorrow, the joy that will sweep throughout the country, and they probably don’t want to see anything like that because they have become hostile to anything that cheers our spirits.
We can’t understand how a dispute between ZIFA and those who manage the stadium could eventually get to a level where the Warriors, the very team this stadium was built for, being barred from accessing their home.
Why, even if there was a dispute, should that have sucked in our sports ambassadors and why those who made the poor decision to lock the stadium didn’t even consider that they still had some days to resolve their differences without disrupting the team’s preparations?
This mission isn’t for these Warriors, it isn’t for ZIFA, it isn’t for Sunday Chidzambwa and his coaching staff, it isn’t for those who manage the stadium, it is for this country called Zimbabwe and everyone who calls himself or herself a Zimbabwean.
That means it’s bigger than all of us in our individual capacities and rather than be disrupted by petty differences, the Warriors should have been getting a helping hand from everyone to ensure they fulfil the mission.
This was the week when even those stadium managers should have waived whatever fees they charge the team for training and even playing at the National Sports Stadium for the sake of ensuring the boys are fully supported to succeed.
It appears some people, whom we have tasked to manage key sports facilities like the National Sports Stadium, don’t even know the power of the Warriors that this is a team with immense capacity to unite our nation, that it’s a team whose success sends some positive images about our country throughout the world.
The events at the giant stadium on Thursday should be thoroughly investigated, as Minister Coventry has made it clear, and those found to be working against national interests, by sabotaging the Warriors, should be made to pay heavily for their sins.
The new political dispensation under President Mnangagwa has already made it clear that this isn’t the time for us to remain trapped in the ways of the past, where some of us put their personal interests ahead of the national interests, and we can’t continue operating as we did yesterday.
It appears some people remain reluctant to embrace that message, to play their part to make a difference, and the hostility shown to the Warriors, by some people who should be at the forefront to make sure that this team gets the best chance to succeed tomorrow, for the sake of our nation, should be condemned in the harshest terms possible.