YOUTH, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry’s decision to dissolve the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) board must be hailed as one of the major steps towards redressing shortcomings that have left sport stagnant for years.
In ending the tenure of the Edward Siwela-led board, the minister has lived up to her word that she was to hit the ground running following her appointment to Cabinet.
Coventry has been an achiever throughout her illustrious sporting career and her vision for the new ministry should be supported by a board that is young and dynamic and with the right gender and racial balance.
It is against this background that we welcome with enthusiasm her decision to dissolve the board which had only one woman – Lilian Mbayiwa.
The rest of the other members of the outgoing board were John Falkenburg, Keith Goddard, Clemence Mukwasi, Titus Zvomuya, Nicholas Vingirai and Joseph Mungwari.
Coventry’s move to dissolve the SRC board comes at a time when it had become evidently clear that the SRC needed vibrant and innovative leadership with the zeal to implement Government’s Vision 2030.
Sport, the world over, has become a billion-dollar industry that contributes immensely to the GDP and with the right ideas and an energetic SRC, there is no stopping Zimbabwean sport from contributing to the fiscus.
While there are many things that need to be corrected, the dismissal of the board was an initial step that will pave way for the necessary adjustments and restore confidence in Government’s ability to get things going in the right direction.
For national sporting associations to operate efficiently and in a professional manner, they have to take a cue from the SRC.
However, reports last month that an audit firm had raised the red flag on the ability of the SRC to survive as a going concern painted a gloomy picture of the state of sport in the country and Coventry as a former top athlete and administrator with the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee knows the significance of having a Commission that leads the way.
Among the SRC’s objectives are to co-ordinate, control, develop and foster the activities of sport and recreation in the country.
It should also ensure proper administration of sports and rereation bodies and we wonder whether the dissolved board was still carrying out its mandate to the letter.
Instead what we have seen in the last few years was an SRC that had allowed itself to be sucked into personality clashes involving a number of associations, notably football, cricket, rugby and handball.
The dissolution of the board has raised high hopes that the minister will now consult widely and set up a new team that has people of diverse backgrounds and expertise which include such skills as human resource management, legal and finance skills and gender balance.
That Minister Coventry sits and chairs the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission shows the importance of having people who have been athletes, some who have been technical officials and some who have previously been sports administrators making up the new board.
A great degree of expectation will be placed on the man or woman who will drive both the board as an ex-officio member and head of the secretariat – the director-general.
It was time the SRC naturally led the way in sport and recreation in Zimbabwe and as such needs a director-general who has successfully run a national sports association and has the right business acumen.
As noted by the auditors, the SRC cannot continue to survive on Government grants and it needs a board that leads it on a path to self-sustainability by venturing into diverse business and revenue-generating initiatives with collection of levies and sponsorship deals major factors.
The new board which the minister is expected to come up with also has the mammoth task of ensuring that there is some standard in the way national sport associations relate with their athletes, coaches, competitors, regional confederations, continental and international bodies.
They must also spread sport to schools. That can only be done by teaching trainee teachers sport so that when they graduate from teachers’ colleges they take sport to their areas of deployment.
All this can be championed by a vibrant sports body that has to justify its existence beyond just organising the National Youth Games and the Annual National Sports Awards.