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Promoting olympism in Zimbabwe

Olympism is defined by the International Olympic Committee as a philosophy of life, which places sport at the service of humanity.

This philosophy is based on the interaction of the qualities of the body, will and mind. Olympism is expressed through actions which link sport to culture and education. In Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee has the responsibility to promote olympism, further to ensuring competitive participation at Olympic Games.

Administratively, there are two primary bodies that have the mandate of running sport in Zimbabwe. There is the Sports and Recreation Commission, borne out of the Sports and Recreation Commission Act, that provides for the registration and regulation of national sport associations (NSAs), and then we have the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, borne out of the Olympic Charter, whose mandate can be summarised as to promote, defend and develop sport using the Olympic Movement (organisations, athletes and other persons who agree to be guided by the Olympic Charter).

The Ministry of Sports and Recreation, through the Sports and Recreation Commission has played its part in developing The National Sports and Recreation Policy, which provides the comprehensive parameters upon which sporting activities can be promoted and supported. Now the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee should complement the Sports Policy by promoting olympism in the country in order to build a peaceful and better country by schooling the youth through sport, without any form of discrimination while cultivating a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Many Zimbabweans associate the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee with the Olympic Games because the games are the apex programme of the Olympic Movement.

However, there are several other issues that are dictated by the International Olympic Committee that the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee should pay attention to, but the writer will limit this article on promoting an active society, paying attention to women in sport, focusing on education through sport, social development through sport, and peace and reconciliation through sport.

For the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee to fully deliver its mandate to Zimbabweans, it should encourage the regular practice of sport by as many citizens as possible.

This can be achieved by helping national sports associations (NSAs) to decentralise and spread sport to as many provinces and districts as possible, and one of the most effective ways of doing that is coordinating an organised introduction of Olympic Sports in teacher training institutions.

This will result in qualified teachers having coaching expertise in the various sporting disciplines, which they will take with them to schools as they are deployed to the districts, so it helps to increase access to sport for all and provide the masses with the health and educational benefits of sport.

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee should continue to improve efforts to identify and remove barriers that prevent women from playing an active role in sports.

Gender equality should be a priority area for the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee. Conferences, seminars, and workshops on women and sport should be used to motivate more females to participate in sport at all levels; be they athletes, technical officials and administrators.

In Zimbabwe, our female Olympians have statistically performed better than their male counterparts and a quick reminder of the achievements of the Golden Girls and lately Kirsty Coventry will support that assertion.

The appointment of a Minister of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education and Vocational Training in Zimbabwe can be used as a simple example to demonstrate the importance placed by Government on the contribution of sporting activities in achieving a well-balanced development of the body, personality and mind. As such, the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee has a duty to liaise between sport, education and culture through its member NSAs.

Strong synergies should be established and maintained between the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, National Association of Primary Heads, National Association of Secondary Heads, Zimbabwe Tertiary Institutions Sports Union, and the Zimbabwe Universities Sports Association.

Sport can be used as an effective tool in enhancing social development in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee can partner with organisations with interests in humanitarian aid such as United Nations agencies, NGOs, and any other Olympic Movement stakeholders to mitigate the effects of poverty and social inequalities.

The contribution sport can make towards peace-building efforts has generally been underestimated.

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee can encourage NSAs to use sport at the grassroots level, to create an environment in which people in various forms of conflict can get together and work towards a similar goal, to demonstrate respect for others and to share territorial space and sporting equipment.

This can be particularly an effective way to deal with any unforeseen conflict, be it cultural, gender based, political or otherwise.

It must therefore, be known that besides celebrating the quadrennial Olympic Games, the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee has the duty, as enunciated by the Olympic Charter, to blend sport with culture and education, to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

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