It’s more than just sporting prowess

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I DO not know the amount of consultation put into the appointment of former Olympic champion swimmer Kirsty Coventry as Zimbabwe’s new Sports minister.

By Enock Muchinjo

Whatever it took, the appointment has been well-received across the board, and hopefully it marks the start of a new era for sport in Zimbabwe.

Coventry’s rise to the position of minister has been a major talking point in the country, as you would expect, with many thoughts and theories emerging out of it: some sufficiently sensible and some, well, pretty absurd.

The most pedestrian impression from Coventry’s appointment is to assume that ministerial posts are now free-for-all playground for anyone who did this or that on a sports field, or in any walk of life for that matter.

When one looks at Coventry’s amazing record — Africa’s most decorated Olympian, unrivalled seven-time medallist at the iconic showpiece and one-time world record-holder — it is easy to forget that she is, on top of a glittering sporting career, also a bachelor’s degree graduate from an internationally reputable university.

Academic achievements, important and desirable as they are, can never, of course, truly portray one’s intellect, work ethic and efficiency.

They help to a point.

However, in this instance, such achievements make quite a strong case when separating Coventry from the rest for such a noble position of Cabinet minister.

To add to a remarkable résumé, Coventry’s administrative experience with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) puts her in good stead — an IOC executive board member, and chairperson of the athletes’ commission.

Opportunities exist these days for athletes to empower themselves during and before retirement.

Coventry is a shining examples of the values to which other Zimbabwean sports stars should aspire.

I am all in favour of the idea of sports people taking charge of their federations, and the appointment of Coventry in the ministry should cascade down to the different sports associations in the country.

But there should be no freebies. If people in sport are not properly equipped to run their own affairs, then others will do it for them. And count yourself lucky if those “others” governing your favourite sport have a remote clue of the game they are administering.

Just take a look at cricket and football.

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