Athletes Need Exposure

THE Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games came to a close on Sunday with England topping the medal chart with 174 medals with Zambia coming back with two bronze medals in what was a dismal outing.

Kudos, however, should be given to boxer Ben Muziyo and judoka Boas Munyonga for minting the two medals to redeem Zambia after failing to do so since the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games.

But after interacting with some athletes and seen the competition offered by competitors from other countries, I feel it is time Zambia got serious in as far as exposing the athletes is concerned failure to which our men and women would remain tourists.

Our athletes have continued to lag behind because they are rarely given the opportunity to compete with athletes from other countries and regions.

Moreover, the decision by the Zone Six to introduce the Podium Performance Programme is a long overdue but appreciate move.

I believe Zambia can do better at such competitions by coming out up with serious administrative measures where administrators should prioritise the interest of the athletes unlike pushing their personal agenda by fattening their pockets.

Surely should a country like Zambia with a population of somewhere around 13 million people be lagging behind to a tiny country like Kiribati that won gold despite having a population of only a 100, 000 people?

For those who missed it, the tiny Pacific island of Kiribati celebrated winning a first Commonwealth Games medal, which came in form of gold, after David Katoatau won gold in weightlifting’s 105kilogrammes Group A event.

I feel our administrators should, in liaison with the National Olympic Committee (NOC), Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) and the Ministry of Sport, come up with long term programmes aimed at winning medals at these international events.

Early preparation should be encouraged, for example the All Africa Games which are coming next year as well as the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Preparations should start now by identifying and exposing sportsmen and women by using a Government to Government arrangement.

A Government-to-Government partnership could equally benefit our athletes get some scholarships to help sharpen their skills and get the needed exposure.

But my aice on this one is allow deserving athletes benefit from these scholarships unlike those losers who failed to shine in Glasgow where the runners were a disappointment despite training in the best of facilities in the United States and Mauritius.

Mind you! There is tax payer’s money involved in sending people out to represent the country.

There is need to start from the base. Let schools be involved in these programmes. By the way what has happened to the schools competitions which saw the pupils compete in inter schools then districts before going national through the inter-provincial tournaments.

Let us have a wide pool of selection from these rural areas where we can find athletes with endurance and the only thing needed will be to expose them through awarding them these scholarships that are going to waste by the current crop enjoying such facilities.

We can engage countries like Cuba, Ireland and India among a few that seem to be doing well in boxing and see how best our boxers can benefit. There is Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria who seem to be doing well in athletics-let’s see what we can learn from them.

Otherwise it will remain the same old story of lack of exposure while tiny nations continue to surpass us.

Look at Rwanda cycling success story, the cyclists are now planning to compete in the Tour De France while our’s will forever remain competing in the annual Chova completion in Chipata.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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