By Rusunguko Shone
SPORT in general and football, in particular, is only but mere recreation in Zimbabwe if the omission of the sector from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s televised Independence Day address is anything to go by.
Had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, football was also going to occupy centre stage during this year’s Zimbabwe national Independence Day celebrations.
That many Zimbabweans are keen followers of football and other disciplines should have awakened Mnangagwa and company to the dire need to, even in passing, address the derelict football infrastructure which was twice condemned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
While the President has the ambition to transform Zimbabwe’s economy for the better in the next 10 years, his ignorance of the role sport plays in helping towards attainment of his social economic objectives will stand as a stumbling block.
“…may we never lose the bigger vision to develop Zimbabwe towards an upper-middle-income economy by 2030,” Mnangagwa said.
There is no doubt that sport contributes immensely to the gross domestic product of nations that invest in developing their sport sectors.
Perhaps he deliberately skipped the sector because over the years, government had treated sport as an extra-curricular activity, allocated only a paltry funding by the Treasury.
“Independence is about determining our own fate and choosing to take our destiny into our hands,” Mnangagwa said.
The Zimbabwe senior football team will play home matches in other countries if Barbourfields and the National Sports Stadium fail to meet the 15 June deadline set by CAF for the facilities to be upgraded to international standards.
“We are now a 40-year old …and mature nation. Our proud and free Zimbabwe lives eternally,” Mnangagwa said.
That ‘homeless Warriors host Algeria in South Africa’ is a bit sensational but tabloids may not resist the temptation of a powerful banner.
The coronavirus pandemic has so far kept Zimbabwe’s pride intact, by rendering it time to complete its dilapidated stadiums.