London — COMMONWEALTH countries have observed that there is need for governments to allocate more funding to sports in their national budgets because sport helps in enhancing national development.
The ministers discussed how sport can contribute to advancing development goals and how sport for development and peace can be used in efforts to address social and economic challenges and promote global public health under the theme: 'How to integrate sports in development."
Zambia was represented at the sixth session of the Commonwealth Sports Ministers' Conference at the historical White Hall by Permanent Secretary, Agnes Musunga on the Wednesday ahead of the official opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games last night.
Briefing the Press at the Zambia High Commission on Thursday, Musunga said members observed that sport was considered a minor sector of various countries economies hence the allocation of meagre resources in their national budgets for sports.
"The meeting went very well. It brought together ministers of all commonwealth countries represented here and it took place at the historical White Hall. Sport is not just about winning and losing; it plays a vital role in enhancing development and peace.
One country gave an example of how of how they have addressed the high levels of youth unemployment and looked at ways of engaging the youth through sport. he said since then the youth have been highly motivated
and they are enthusiastic about excelling in life, so, sport can be entrenched in sectors like health, it can also act an acumen for students because sport is being linked to everything.
Since the Commonwealth meeting in India in 2010, where it was agreed that sport can be integrated in development through pilot projects, Zambia has agreed to use sport as a pilot project to market the
country because we realise it can help in the development of a country's economy," Musunga said.
The Permanent Secretary said it was agreed that country's can apply for piloting for packaging sport adding that Zambia would consider applying to see how sport can be integrated in the country's development following the national soccer team's winning of the Africa Cup in February.
She said since Zambia's historical Africa Cup soccer victory in Gabon on February 12, it has helped to package Zambia's tourism adding that the victory has brought a lot of benefits to the country.
Musunga said it was also agreed that sport must be participated by all regardless of gender or disability and can be packaged as a business project by bringing in the corporate world on board because it helps raise the country's GDP.
She said the private sector can try and promote athletes through branding of attire and can come up with various motivational packages for athletes.
Musunga said there was also to bring professionalism in the management of sport to make the sector more professional saying good governance in sport was needed for capacity building in managing various sports disciplines.
A communique will be distributed electronically to all member states outlining the guidelines shared to see how each country can mainstream sports in all areas of national development.
Musunga said preparations were on course for the 2014 Scotland Commonwealth Games and Youth Games in Glasgow and that Zambia will start preparations soon adding; "I am sure the sky is the limit for Zambia after the AFCON victory."
And National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) president Miriam Moyo and secretary general Hazel Kennedy paid a courtesy call at the Zambia's High Commission in Central London and handed High Commissioner Bizwayo Nkunika an NOCZ green blazer as a gift for the official opening of the Olympic Games.
Present during the ceremony were Deputy High Commissioner Eva Fundafunda, First secretary for Press, Amos Chanda and Mungongi Samutete, the First Secretary Protocol and Steward Nchimunya, First Secretary Consular Affairs.
And Moyo briefed the High Commission on the number of athletes competing at the Olympics, saying the team had settled down at the Games Village and were ready and eager for the competition.
The High Commissioner is scheduled to visit the team in camp on Sunday.