Hlongwane demands Rugby World Cup dance
Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
SPORT and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane says one of his main goals is to see Zimbabwe qualify for the 2019 edition of the Rugby World Cup with the help of a new sports development fund set to be implemented early next year.
He says each sporting association will have a basic amount of money they will receive from the Government as part of their support to all sporting codes through a proposed sporting fund.
In his first meeting with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union, who were represented by president John Falkenberg, chief executive Colleen de Jong, general manager Sifiso Made and director of rugby Brighton Chivandire, Hlongwane said his ministry will soon come up with a sports development fund to help the national associations.
Hlongwane said by the end of April next year, his office would have come up with a comprehensive development fund that will see each of the national sporting associations getting comprehensive support from the Ministry through the Sports Commission.
He said the ZRU should have a sound league system, have a clear development structure, a competitive national league and address issues of corporate governance within their organisation.
“I understand that the last time we missed the World Cup by a whisker, we must make it to the 2019 World Cup. Competing at national level means that we are playing to win otherwise there is no point in competing,” said Hlongwane.
“But there are three major issues that I have an interest that rugby must think about.
“The first one being development issues, I am happy that you have been to Masvingo and carried out development programmes but you must also have a structure to sustain these programmes.
“You also have to think about the issue of (corporate) governance. Of course, it a continuous process but it will make it easy for the corporate to sit down with you.
“Given that you are also hosting the Junior World Trophy next year you have to take advantage of that platform and make a lot of noise about that. You have to avoid problematic headlines in the papers, you need stability in the board, have a transparent election process and not fight for posts, avoid factionalism and stay out of politics.
“There is need for a league that takes care and covers all corners of the country, all provinces represented and that has to filter down to the districts.
“As the minister I promise that I will do all that is possible to help Zimbabwe Rugby but you have to keep your lines of communication open. My door is open and through the Sports Commission we will help you.”
Chivandire said he was not happy with the current league structure.
The current league is not very well structured because we have provincial leagues in the form of Northern and Southern Leagues and that is not ideal because we need a national league where teams travel and compete,” said Chivandire.
The ZRU have engaged Old Mutual as their major development partner as they take care of the youth teams — the Under-18, Under-17 and Under-14 teams’ international costs, including flights to the Craven Week Festivals, and are also involved in the Old Mutual community Shield.
“We have over 21 000 players involved in the development programmes and Old Mutual are making life and development easier for Zimbabwe Rugby and we also have the Get-into-Rugby programme as well that is partly funded by World Rugby,” said Falkenberg.