9 November 2012

Zambia: Repay Us, Govt Tells Athletes

GOVERNMENT has demanded medals from Team Zambia during next month's Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six games as "pay back" for the astronomical K135 billion investment in preparations and hosting of the Games.

Secretary to the Cabinet, Roland Msiska said yesterday after touring all the facilities for use during the games that run from December 4 to 17 that the Zambian contingent should repay Government's generosity through an impressive haul of medals in the biennial games Zambia would host.

And Sogecoa, the contractors working on the swimming pool at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC), have expressed concern at the erratic water and electricity supply which they said is hampering work at the site.

The facilities are either receiving a facelift or being constructed from scratch in readiness for the regional Under-20 games to be hosted in Lusaka.

"Really, we are putting in huge investment into infrastructure for our athletes and the only way they can repay us for all this is by winning a lot of medals. We should finish number one in all fields and win a lot of gold medals," Msiska said.

He said Zambia has had a favourable sporting season this year with the national soccer team winning the Africa Cup, Mohammed Essa winning the Africa Rally Championship as well as Catherine Phiri's conquering of Canadian, Natalie Forget.

The other female boxing heroine, Esther Phiri broke world records in a short space of time in recent years. Esther's last fight was against Zimbabwe's Monalisa Sibanda on February 17, 2012.

The Secretary to the Cabinet attributed all this to the massive talent the country has and said in order for Zambia to prove it has all this talent, the local athletes taking part in the Zone Six games should reap medals during the two-week sporting extravaganza.

He said Zambia was a hugely dominant figure in all sporting disciplines in the region but has lost that touch lately.

Msiska said the lack of proper infrastructure could have been part of the reasons for the decline in status.

"All we need to do is go back to the basics and at least athletes have the infrastructure now and all the support from Government and the whole of Zambia.

"What we are expecting from all this investment is Zambia re-establishing itself as a regional powerhouse."

Msiska led a high-powered Government delegation that included Ministry of Sport Permanent Secretary Agnes Musunga on a tour of OYDC, where a state-of-the-art Olympic-size swimming pool is being built from the scratch, Nkoloma Stadium and Sunset Stadium.

He also toured the National Sports Development Centre and the Games Village at the University of Zambia, whose hostels, kitchen and cafeteria are being given a classy touch.

On the infrastructure being developed, Msiska said he was extremely impressed with the quality of works by various contractors working on the different sites and the pace at which work was progressing.

He spoke against vandalism of the facilities and called for proper care and maintenance to the infrastructure, saying the Government was spending a lot of money on the existing infrastructure.

Msiska said had the facilities been receiving appropriate maintenance, costs would have been minimal.

And Musunga said the programme was going according to schedule, adding that all the infrastructure would be ready before the games start on December 4.

"We have a robust monitoring team checking on the contractors on meeting daily and weekly targets.

"So far, things are going according to schedule. The swimming pool is almost done, we shall finish both the main and warm-up pools two weeks before the games start and we shall test it ahead of the games," she said.

On the power and water challenges being experienced by the contractor working on the swimming pool, Musunga assured that the Government was treating that as a matter of urgency.

She said the Government had engaged Zesco and Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company so that the problem could be resolved quickly.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Sakala reports that Zone Six operations manager, Isaac Mwape has said there is need to increase the number of volunteers in the local organising committee (LOC).

Mwape said during a trainer of trainers' workshop at Chrismar Hotel in Lusaka yesterday that the committee had initially wanted 800 volunteers, but submissions from the sub-committees indicated that the number of volunteers should go up.

He said the aim of the workshop was to equip volunteers in events management as that was the mission of the Zone Six games.

"We are conducting a trainers' training workshop. We are taking them through the events management as they are the people mainly working behind the scenes.

"We had an initial number of about 800 volunteers, but from the reports we are receiving from the sub-committees, the number of volunteers will go up," Mwape said.

He said it was not easy for the LOC to run events activities alone, but needed people who would work to perfect the event.

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