IndependentSport View – With Itai Dzamara
ADVERTISEMENTS inserted in virtually all newspapers and those flighted on television and radio stations by the corporate world “proud to be
associated with Kirsty Coventry” were amazing.
One newspaper carried at least two advertisements on each page from page 2 to the back page. Nothing wrong with that at all. Obviously, no right-thinking Zimbabwean would try to take anything away from Coventry following her haul of three medals at the Olympic Games in Greece. It is also undeniable that it was a moment of national pride.
However, the excitement over Coventry’s feat only exposed a sleeping giant that the corporate world has been. A visitor to this country would have marvelled at such display of support which could be expected to symbolise sufficient sponsorship for sporting disciplines in the country.
A one-off half page full colour advert for example, in some papers costs over $5 million. It therefore means the amount of advertising revenue raised from Coventry’s achievements by one newspaper could have bailed out local athletics for a whole year.
What emerged during the euphoric period following Coventry’s achievements only served to show how comfortably the corporate world could join hands and sponsor sport.
Members of the corporate world are largely not associating themselves with sports currently, that is a fact. And the blame does not lie with them. None of the members of the corporate world would want to be associated with the chaos that is endemic in virtually all sporting disciplines at the moment.
It is difficult to place one’s resources in an institution like the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) where chaos is the order of the day. It is the same with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) currently going through turbulent times as a result of terrible decisions.
Beyond a few individuals such as Coventry, swimming is almost non-existent in Zimbabwe whilst a host of other sporting disciplines – athletics, rugby, basketball, volleyball and squash – float in the same boat of gloom.
If anyone wanted an example of how the corporate world responds to success and sanity, Coventry’s case told it all. It would be wise for sports administrators to eat humble pie, retreat to the drawing board and restart the formula all over again.
No matter how opportunists – and these include everyone in government – could fall over each other to associate themselves with Coventry, the glaring facts remain – the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex is a stinking white elephant! The complex which was meant to symbolise development in swimming currently tells the real story regarding the sport.
The green festering body of water at the complex in no lesser terms depicts the real horror story not only of aquatic sports, but the whole sporting fraternity. It would be folly for people to be blinded by Coventry’s success to the extent of forgetting the reality in our sport.
One couldn’t avoid laughing at the images of every Tom, Dick and Sekai thronging the Harare International Airport to welcome Coventry on Wednesday afternoon.
Harare’s acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara was there to partake in the national moment of pride. But not far away from the Airport is Chitungwiza with its delapidating facilities.
Makwavarara’s council is watching as sporting facilities such as Rufaro Stadium fall apart.
Sports minister Aeneas Chigwedere must have endured a guilt conscience when he joined in the fun at a time his ministry seems to have no policy at all regarding sport.
As Head of State, President Mugabe had to emerge from his taxing battle for political survival and “be proud to be associated with Coventry”. That is understandable. But it doesn’t mask the fact that he also has no clear policy on the development of sport.
We hope Coventry’s success and the slight reprieve it provided Mugabe will inspire him to change his approach regarding sport.
It is our leadership that has failed to lay the foundation on which sport can be developed.
As things stand, there is no basis on which to pin our hopes unless we choose to be self-delusionary.
Well done Kirsty! But don’t let anyone use you to mask the mess in which our sport, including of course your beloved swimming, is mired!