Chimukoko Bemoans Lack of Facilities for Athletes

Zimbabwe Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission chairperson, Abel Chimukoko, has underlined the importance of prioritising athletes as they are the owners of sport.

He made the remarks after the ZOC Athletes’ Commission virtual meeting held over the weekend where several concerns were raised.

Some of the issues highlighted include lack of proper facilities, communication between national associations and athletes as well as prioritisation of athletes when it comes to resources and their welfare.

“Challenges remain on the state of facilities in Zimbabwe,” he said. “Athletes need certified stadiums to qualify for major games locally.

“There is lack of communication, between athletes and their national federations, where athletes are deprived information.

“Sport in Zimbabwe is currently at a low level, as proven by a single Olympic qualification, in-house fighting which results in cases at courts, and unnecessary clinging to power and overall poor administration where athletes are considered second after officials, which should be the opposite.

“Even, in terms of allowances, athletes should get the bigger share because they are the owners of sport.

“We will continue to educate athletes so that they understand their rights and responsibilities as well as the mandate of Athletes’ Commission.

“They are there to work with their NFs, not to fight against them. There should be a symbiotic relationship in order to succeed.”

Chimukoko said they will engage the Sports and Recreation Commission regarding the issue of facilities.

The meeting attracted representatives from triathlon, basketball, shooting, taekwondo, archery, athletics, rugby, volleyball, hockey, handball, karate, netball, table tennis, women’s football, judo and boxing.

There were presentations on Covid-19 and anti-doping to educate, and create awareness, among athletes.

The representatives appealed to the Government to allow more sports codes, as well as competitions, to take place following the disruption by the pandemic.

“Covid-19 is a natural disaster which no one has control over. We just encouraged each other to be safe, follow World Health Organisation safety guidelines.

“Athletes were encouraged to take up courses to prepare for life after sport and also to keep on training, especially running individually, for those in high risk sport.

“The Government allocated $10m as Covid-19 grant to sports and most athletes applied.

“We will continue to use online seminars, courses and meetings. We have also created a data base for NFs Athletes’ Commissions.

“Now we can have continuous feedback from athletes other than waiting for next meeting,” said Chimukoko.

For national associations that do not have Athletes’ Commissions in place, Chimukoko said they will continue engaging individual athletes so that they were not left out on programmes.

National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe Athletes’ Commission chairperson, Cuthbert Nyasango, said there need to continuously educate athletes about anti-doping.

“Let may say it, as someone who is an ambassador for anti-doping, it’s very rare to have athletes in one place to educate them.

“In athletics, as the Athletes’ Commission, we try to have some quiz, asking questions on anti-doping, what is expected from athletes and the importance of compliance.

“The challenge sometimes is resources. Sometimes athletes need face to face meetings.

“But we are trying our best, sending and sharing a lot of information we get from the World Anti-Doping Agency,” Nyasango said.

The seasoned runner said it was a good meeting.

“It was very important because it was the first time we had that opportunity as athletes, as the Athletes Commission we just met to discuss and heed the other side of the coin.

“It gave us a lot of information, ideas, what is expected from athletes, the function of the Athletes Commission,” Nyasango said.

ZOC president, Admire Masenda, and chief executive, Anna Mguni, also participated in the meeting.

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