SPORTS ministers from southern Africa have praised Zambia for making significant strides in sports infrastructure development ahead of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Under-20 Games which start today.
After touring the newly-built and renovated facilities, the ministers said the works done by the Zambian Government were exceptional, with the Olympic-size swimming pool at Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) being singled out as phenomenal.
Leading the 'praise team' was Angolan Sports Minister Goncalves Manuel Muadumbe who said dedicating of so much money towards infrastructure showed the commitment Government had towards sports development.
"I would like to congratulate Zambia for putting up all these things because we know this will eventually get to help improve sports standards in the country.
"This is quite impressive, am sure the Games will go on smoothly and very successful one for that matter," he said.
He said Angola could only learn from Zambia how well to pull together and come up with facilities that would in the long run help in the development of various sports disciplines in the country.
The ministers toured Nkoloma Stadium, which today hosts the opening ceremony, where they found contractors touching up the last bits to the dressing rooms and doping centre while the floodlights were lit before they went to the University of Zambia (UNZA), which is the Games Village, and ended the tour at OYDC.
Swaziland's Sports and Recreation Minister, Hlobishe Ndlovu said the swimming pool gave her a "wow" feeling as it was shocking that the excavation and putting up of the stands for the monumental structure was done in 90 days.
"We hosted the last Games and I know Zambia will stand to gain as we have in terms of infrastructure. We have things we never had and I'm feeling the rhythm of sport in the country. The commitment to sport is enormous and now I see why Zambia are African champions.
"The swimming pool is a 'wow' structure. At the last Games in Swaziland, we failed to deliver a 50-metre pool so we did with a 25-metre pool but to see Zambia put one up in just three months motivates us to put one up. With team work things can be done, this is quite impressive," she said.
Malawi's Sports Minister Enoch Chakufa Chihana said he felt proud about the strides Zambia had made, adding that the team work exhibited now made him understand why all sectors in Zambia were doing well, including sport.
"I am very impressed and will support Zambia in everything they do in these Games; infrastructure development is good and I will ask my Zambian colleague to share with me where they are getting the money from to put up all this," he quipped.
"Zambia did the stadium in Ndola (Levy Mwanawasa) and then another one here in Lusaka (the under-construction Lusaka Stadium), and then this swimming pool
I am seeing, this is amazing," Chihana added.