Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
NATIONAL Athletics Association of Zimbabwe director of coaching, talent identification and development Lisimati Phakamile has urged coaches to engage up-and-coming athletes to ensure talent is not lost after they leave school.
This comes after Zimbabwe successfully defended their title at the just-ended Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa Championships (Cossasa) in Harare.
The hosts got 95 medals, including 40 gold, to finish tops in the regional meet that also featured Botswana, Namibia and Malawi. In second place were Namibia with 75 medals, followed by Botswana with 69.
Malawi were bottom of the medals table with just one gold. Phakamile said Nash and Naph continue to play an important role in identifying and developing talent at school level.
“I want to first of all congratulate the team, the boys and girls, it was an outstanding performance. They put in more than 100 percent effort.
“Also not forgetting the coaches who worked tirelessly day and night preparing the athletes that was good work by team Zimbabwe. As an association we are grateful to both these associations, Nash and Naph, because that’s where we identify athletes, that’s where our athletes get exposure, competition and the zeal to compete.
“Now the baton is in the hands of coaches in Zimbabwe to all scramble to pick up this talent we have seen at the National Sports Stadium. We had athletes coming from all 10 provinces (to make up team Zimbabwe). And as NAAZ we have coaches in all those provinces.
“As an association we are urging coaches to look at these athletes. Coaches you have seen what Cossasa has done as you know you are trained, you are qualified pick up these athletes and continue to develop them,” said Phakamile.
The regional competition targets Under-13s, Under-15s who competed for the first time and Under-17s.
Nash head in charge of athletics, Philip Chikomwe, said the results are an indication of improvement on their state of preparedness for the event.
“The final tally of the results indicates how prepared we were and we outclassed Botswana and Namibia. They could not compete with us on the last day.
“I would like to say we are improving in our level of preparedness. We expected Botswana to give us a tough time but they failed to meet our standard in the track where they are very good.