By Ellina Mhlanga
ZIMBABWE Boxing Federation technical director Steven Masiyambumbi has challenged participants at the upcoming national championships in Bulawayo to give their best as the mother body seeks to assemble a strong team for next year’s continental and international events.
The national championships, slated for Saturday at Sizinda South Beer Garden in Bulawayo, will see junior and senior boxers drawn from across the country fighting for honours in various weight categories.
The event is also likely to feature participants from the Zimbabwe National Army, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services as well as Great Zimbabwe University.
“This is a national championship whereby we will be selecting the national champions for both youths and seniors. “Since we are saying we are likely to have the All-Africa Games (African Games) next year we don’t want a situation whereby we will have to call for another selection event. So whoever is going to win this year, they will also stand a chance and the privileges to represent the country in 2019. “Also we are expecting all 10 provinces since we gave them the opportunity to select their teams. So in Bulawayo we are expecting provincial champions.
“ZNA, Zimbabwe Prisons, Great Zimbabwe and University of Zimbabwe are likely to come. So we are looking at more than 200 boxers,” said Masiyambumbi.
Participants will compete from light-flyweight to heavyweight categories.
“We are likely to have top quality boxers for the different weight categories. They all know we are going to select a team. So they are going to put maximum effort.
“So it’s going to be tough even for officials to select the best fighters but at the end of the day we have to come up with the best,” Masiyambumbi said. However, the ZBF technical director lamented the fact they won’t be part of the African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Youth Games to take place in Botswana in December.
The Sports Commission indicated a few months ago that the country if going to field a small team for the Games.
And the selected sport codes are athletics, athletics for the visually-impaired, netball, football (girls), swimming and tennis.
Chef de mission for the Games, Charity Nyamayedenga, said selection was based on medal hopefuls at the regional event.
Masiyambumbi said the regional Games are key in gauging their progress and exposing their athletes, in anticipation of bigger competitions.
“Our main worry is as boxing I think we have been deprived of the Region Five Games. In the previous Games we have never failed to bring medals at Region Five and those boxers have been preparing. So it might discourage them because for any athletes, the aim is to represent one’s country,” said Masiyambumbi.