THE fifth edition of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Under-20 Games opened in Lusaka yesterday with a spectacular ceremony at Nkoloma Stadium show-casing the best of Zambia.
Lusaka's countdown to the SCSA Zone Six Games came to a crescendo with a stunning, imaginative, whimsical and dramatic celebration, showing the Southern African region the rich Zambian traditional performances.
Before a packed stadium, different entertainment groups that included Amayenge Asoza, Kay Figo and Mozegeta with his Mimbulu Boys among several others took turns to give the crowd some exuberating performances.
The lighting of the Zone Six Games Cauldron kicked off the party, much to the excitement of the crowd that included acting Republican Vice-President, Wynter Kabimba who described Zambia's staging of the Games as a momentous occasion.
The Games' flame was carried into the stadium by Zambia's international chess master, Daniel Jere.
Earlier, athletes from all participating countries marched into the stadium in their colourful national colours.
Awarding of some deserving officials and athletes from the Zone Six region also added some colour to the opening ceremony of this event which welcomed the finest junior athletes from Southern Africa.
Some of the recipients for the awards of excellence included National Olympic Committee of Zambia president, Miriam Moyo, International Olympic Committee board member, Thomas Sithole, legendary Malawian football referee, Bester Kalombo and South Africa's double amputee athlete, Oscar Pistorious.
When he officially opened the Games, Kabimba said it was a memorable occasion for the Patriotic Front (PF) Government to make Zambians' dreams of hosting a major international event come true.
He said it was the first time that the SCSA Zone Six Games were coming to Zambia and that the next 13 days of sport action would be exciting.
Kabimba, who is Justice Minister, said Government appreciated the role sport played as a tool for development and promised more resources to the Ministry of Youth and Sport.
He paid tribute to Sport and Youth Minister Chishimba Kambwili and his team, the local zonal organising committee, cooperating partners and volunteers for ensuring Zambia rose to the occasion and staged the 2012 SCSA Zone Six Games.
Kabimba wished all participating teams well and advised the athletes to always uphold the spirit of fair play.
He also said the Government had set aside money in the 2013 national Budget for rehabilitation of sport infrastructure across the nation.
Kambwili described the opening day of the Games as his happiest in his life which he would forever cherish.
He said he was delighted the day had come to fruition and thanked President Michael Sata for his unwavering support to ensure the Games were held in Lusaka through provision of resources.
The Sports minister said the PF Government would leave a legacy and that true to their promises, managed to deliver a state-of-art swimming pool within 90 days.
He promised Zambians of more sport infrastructure under President Sata's administration and also appealed to the visitors to spare time and visit some of the nation's tourist attractions.
Before delivering his speech, Kambwili was given a special blazer by the SCSA Zone Six organising committee for his efforts to ensure the Games were held in Lusaka.
SCSA Zone Six organising committee chairperson, Mvuzo Mbebe promised incredible 13 days of enthralling sports festival.
Mbebe saluted the Zambian Government for providing the political will and resources which were availed to stage the Games.
He said on September 14, he was contemplating taking the Games away from Zambia but the assurances and enthusiasm shown by Kambwili forced him to allow Lusaka to remain as 2012 hosts.
Mbebe said hailed Zambia for the tremendous efforts put in to build an Olympic-size swimming pool, rehabilitate other facilities and the University of Zambia hostels, which are the Games' Village.
He promised safe and "clean" Games, warning that anti-doping measures had been put in place to curb drug use.
Local Organising Committee chairperson, Essau Nebwe said it was a challenging task to organise the Games but was delighted that the nation rose and delivered.