By Goodwill Zunidza
Sports experts have urged the country’s sports authorities to invest in modern methods such as science and technology to mitigate effects of disruptions wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zimbabwe faces a monumental task in trying to regain its stride after losing game time for almost two years with sporting activities on hold as part of efforts to stem the spread of the viral disease.
While professional sport took the hardest hit with sports persons deprived of income, the impact of inactivity was also felt in the youth development system, the normal breeding ground of talent and springboard for national team selection.
No ball has been bowled, kicked or tossed in local schools since March, 2020 when the country went into an indefinite lockdown that has only eased in recent days with sport finally given the green light to resume.
What makes Zimbabwe’s case of picking up the pieces an uphill task is that the competing partners in the region, especially South Africa and Namibia, wasted no time in getting back into action amid the raging pandemic and are already streets ahead in match fitness.
Analysts who spoke to Zim Morning Post said it might take a few years for Zimbabwe to groom world-beating sportspersons after the prolonged lull.
There were few success stories for Zimbabwe during this dark period with two pupils from Prince Edward School and Peterhouse College garnering medals at world events.
Pride Mafira, a PE athlete, qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics after a subliminal performance at a Dubai athletics meet and the blade runner’s achievements were attributed to the scientific training he underwent while at home.
“During lockdown there was zero activity at the school, however most of our boys have the desire to participate in international circuits hence Covid or no Covid we have always given them training programs to follow and they do just that religiously,” says PE Sports Director, Tawanda Jimu.
The same modus operandi was applied on 15-year old Peterhouse Girls School student Daniella Kaschula who smashed a world record at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in the Netherlands.
Mafira and Kaschula were among a handful of sportspersons who, courtesy of online monitoring, were able to maintain their performance levels.
For most schools that began gradually re-opening their gates this week they will find they have to start afresh in reconditioning players who had accumulated rust of more than a year doing nothing.
It is here that Jimu advises local schools and clubs to embrace international-best practices in order to quickly catch up with the rest.
“Look, there is no fast tracking in sport. It only takes the hours needed on the field, court and in the pool. However, we need to invest in sports science and technology; these are the things that make the athlete reach top levels,” Jimu said.
Tambai Dziruni, a fellow of the Sport Science Institute of Zimbabwe said the introduction of science and technology in local sport would immunize the country from situations that oft-times rise when coach and athlete are (social) distanced in training.
“Use of video cameras, time-keepers and ICT gadgets would enable coaches and athletes to keep track of set-targets without the need of waiting for camp. Some elite schools in the country implemented some of these methods and were able to manoeuvre during the lockdown,” Dziruni said.