THE general manager of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six, Stanley Mutoya, said he is happy with the progress he has made since joining the organisation at the beginning of 2011.
Mutoya, the former Zimbabwe Olympic Committee chief executive, said he has settled in well at SCSA Zone Six's headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, and added that his stay there for the past year has been a learning curve for him.
"It has always been a learning experience. When you get into a new position, it's a new culture of doing business and it's a new challenge in terms of the focus.
"Having focused on the national agenda and now being a regional agenda, it broadens the challenges and responsibility. But I can say I really received a lot of support from my board and I can attribute my ease into the position to the experience I've had or acquired in Zimbabwe.
"I think by and large, the Zimbabwean way of doing business is highly commendable and comparable to how some of these organisations conduct business," said Mutoya.
Mutoya took time to reflect on some of the programmes they have undertaken in the past year in furthering the development of sport within the Southern African region.
"I think one of the things I am proud of is being able to comprehend what the region's board has crafted in trying to ensure they are making contributions in sport development and sport related issues with more focus on women enhancement in sports as well as people living with disability.
"Those are most areas I find connected to what I was doing here in Zimbabwe at the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee and above all that I was able to assist in the crafting of the new strategic plan that is going to drive our region for the period of 2013 to 2017," said Mutoya.
The SCSA general manager applauded Zambia for successfully hosting the fifth edition of the Zone Six Youth Games in December last year with the help of the council.
"We were also able to smoothen the preparations for the fifth edition of the Zone Six Under-20 Youth Games, which were successfully held in Lusaka, Zambia.
"There are a couple of issues I am happy about on these Games. We were able to introduce two significant components of sport.
"First was mounting an exhibition which was showcasing what the Zone has done over the past five editions of the Games.
"The second component was sport environment initiative whereby the 10-member countries were able to plant trees in a park, which we have named the Zone Six Park situated at the Games Village in Lusaka, Zambia. That is going to be a living legacy for us. It's going to resemble our commitment to sport coming clean and that we are conscious that we need to preserve the environment.
"Also over and above the Games performance was a major highlight particularly the infrastructure development that we left in Zambia.
"For the first time Zambia have a swimming pool, an Olympic size swimming pool recognised by Fina and that for me is huge. Now Zambia can host any international competition in swimming.
"Further to that, Fina again used the Games as the qualifying event for the Barcelona World Junior swimming championships that will be held this year. That is why you realise that the competition in swimming was advanced," added Mutoya.
Mutoya said they were impressed with the participation of some Olympians at the Zone Six Youth Games and they included Amos Nigel from Botswana.
"We were able to attract some of our Olympians, notably Nigel Amos who won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
"Another highlight was the merit awards. We were able to confer to 13 individuals selected from different countries.
"Again it says a lot in defining our commitment to recognising commitment, excellence and contribution from our people in the region towards sport.
"We held our sport review forum in February 2012, it was to interface with our zonal federations as well as reviewing our strategic plan.
"That review was able to give us an introspection on what is our strength, weaknesses and what we can do differently," said Mutoya.
Mutoya said they are hoping to put in place educational programmes for administrators, technical officials and coaches to create a level field for sportpersons in the region.
Mutoya revealed that the Olympic Games are the council's measuring yardstick for their success.
"One of the strategy we had when I joined the council was the 12 by 12 programmes, whereby we were saying the zone should have won 12 medals at the Olympic Games.
"However, we won seven, three of them being gold and for me as general manager I take that as a benchmark. If we had targeted seven golds and were able to win only three, then we are saying what's next for Rio 2016 Olympic Games?
"We have set the Olympic Games as our measuring yardstick so already it has been an opportunity for me to draw the programmes that we need to drive our goal.
"And one of them is that we have already engaged experts in sport science and high performance who are going to design a programme to help us articulate and help us design a programme for the Zone Six Academy where we intend to develop our outstanding athletes in the region.
"We want them to give us a profile. In other words we are saying if Nigel Amos could win a silver medal what is it that he has that we can develop in the other athletes within the region to win medals.
"But before we even do that, we want the experts to find where our potential lies as a zone so that we are able to focus more on that and develop it further while enhancing in other areas. If you look at the medals we won, they are spread around rowing, swimming, athletics and so on.
"If you look at the Paralympic Games where athletes from the Southern African region won 33 medals, we want to say what exactly do we need to develop the systems that can help us to win more medals," said Mutoya.
Mutoya said they are happy that ministers at the council endorsed that governments' need to support the sporting federations in their countries, a resolution made at the forum they held in February.
"For me the last highlight was the signing of the protocol agreement with Zimbabwe who will host the 2014 Zone Six Youth Games.
"Given the nature of the Games and given Zimbabwe's experience of hosting the 1995 All-Africa Games, really the honour is on Zimbabwe to ensure that they raise the bar.
"Zambia delivered a phenomenal event and we all know that Zimbabwe can do that, we have no doubt about that," said Mutoya.
He also highlighted some of the programmes they hope to run for the period of 2013 to 2017.
"One of the aspects we are focusing on is enhancing the Zone Six Academy. We are also introducing the Zone Six awards, which are separate for the Games plans that are already underway.
"We are working on introducing the Zone Six Paralympic Games because we realised that we need now to support our people living with disability more as they prepare for the Paralympic Games.
"We are strengthening sport for people with disability, we want to ensure that by December 31 this year all member countries have put in place national Paralympic committees.
"When we meet in May for our periodic routine meetings, we will be doing stocktaking to see how many countries would have been able to put the committees in place," said Mutoya.