12 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Coltart Mum As Controversy Rages

THE Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture - David Coltart - yesterday said he needed more time before he could respond to the controversy torched by his controversial directives to guide appointment of national team selectors from next month.

The directives have already triggered a fierce race storm in cricket with Zimbabwe Cricket convener of selectors, Givemore Makoni, making sensational claims that they were meant to drive black technical staff members from the game's key structures that deal with selection and coaching of national team players.

Makoni, who is also the chief executive of Southern Rocks, accused Coltart of allegedly driving a campaign, indirectly, to keep selection of coaching portfolios in cricket to white coaches through his raft of proposed measures. Yesterday Coltart, who was challenged by some of his followers on Twitter to respond, said he needed more time.

"I do not have time at present to comment in full on the articles concerning the appointment of selectors," he tweeted.

"In the meantime, please see the following directives issued by the Sports and Recreation Commission and (Director General) Colonel (Charles) Nhemachena.

"With effect from 1 February 2013, all national sport associations whose national team selection is conducted by national selectors shall ensure that such selectors have the requisite experience and skills.

"In particular, no person shall be appointed as a selector unless they have represented Zimbabwe in the particular sport.

"Where circumstances justify the appointment of a foreign coach as a selector, authority to appoint such person shall be sought from the Sports and Recreation Commission.

"The Commission will exercise its discretion to determine whether it would be reasonable and in the national interest to grant or deny such request. In this instance, it would still be a requirement that such persons provide evidence of having the requisite international experience albeit for another nation." The full statement issued by Nhemachena shows that the Sports Commission received a directive from Coltart on December 3 last year for the implementation of the new controversial directives.

Makoni said it was unfair for his generation, whose path to the national team was blocked by racial barriers that used to keep just two spots for black players in the national team, to be pushed out of the technical structures because they didn't break those barriers.

Temba Mliswa, who has fought a number of battles to bring down racial barriers in rugby and cricket, said he was calling for an urgent meeting of all former cricketers who will be affected by this directive to help them launch a spirited fightback.

Mliswa said his Zimbabwe Economic Empowerment Council will not allow the marginalisation of black officials and players, in what used to be predominantly white sporting disciplines, like rugby and cricket.

"We are meeting all the black cricketers and we will address their concerns because this cannot be allowed to happen in this day and era in this country," said Mliswa.

"To watch our players and officials being disempowered, at a time like this, in their national games, and not fight the system will be unforgivable and we will not allow that.

"Cricket has made a lot of gains, in giving the sport a truly national outlook, and we cannot let a few people come back and reverse those gains.

"What we want the Minister to address is the issue of having three national team selectors, in cricket, where two of them are white and one is black because we feel the playing numbers now show that there should be more black representation in that selection panel. Now he wants to remove the black guy who is there, who is the chairman of selectors, because he didn't play for a national team where his chances were destroyed by the colour of his skin, and not because he wasn't good enough, and we will not allow that."

There was support for Coltart from a post, on his Facebook wall, sent by Debi Jeans who wrote: "At last! Well done to you and the SRC.

"Right move, Right decision. I'm very proud of you and thank you."

Christian Shiku, contributing on the same Facebook debate on the minister's page, said:

"Why is Makoni disturbed by this article, racism comments he made were uncalled for.

"I think he is the one who is a racist. Let's support reforms that will improve sport in Zimbabwe."

But there were some dissenting voices.

Vincent Masocha

"I personally don't see how this can improve our national sport performance. Did DG (Nhemachena) consider the element of sports scientist and their role in the scientific selection of quality players?

"The use of anthropometric tests and physiological tests in selection of good players should not be downplayed. Can an ex-player operate a treadmill and interpret results and the level of fitness of a player? Can he perform the wingate tests to determine the anaerobic functional of players?

"Think outside the box guys if you are serious about our sport. This is modern sport, it is more scientific than artistic.

"Those ex-players whom you say should be national selectors failed to deliver for Zimbabwe in their respective sport and you expect them to select those who can deliver when they failed us during their time, where is the logic here? I can't see it.

"You expect an O-Level failure to teach a university student yet he failed to reach that stage? This should be a Policy matter Mr Director General and not a directive. Directives work kuArmy kwamaiva not kusports."

Jackson Muzivi

"The underlying assumption in this directive is ill-premised. Selection is a professional skill area that applies detailed skill analysis, techniques and match them to well defined performances standards with a view to differentiate candidates for selection on merit as opposed to emotional considerations.

"The purpose being to minimise costly consequences of poor selection, financially, materially and psychologically.

"For a national sporting control body to issue a directive that selectors are best qualified by experience and excellence in a sporting discipline is garbage that must be rejected for want of scientific validity. It is similar to a company that disqualifies a multi-disciplinary approach to job applicants' selection on the grounds that those without practical experience in the position under consideration will not be able to assess candidate suitability.

"Now that is the height of stupidity because while practitioners may possess skills to perform the job, it does not necessarily translate into the skill to identify the qualities that would improve on their own performance.

"The first step in selection is to determine the acceptable performance standards and specify them in writing together with the attitudes, skills and attributes necessary to achieve those standards. the selection process will then become a simple process of matching applicants to the defined attributes and choose those that match the specification closest ahead of the other aspirants.

"One does not need to have excelled in a sporting discipline to do that. In any event, one may have represented the nation in a sporting discipline while his/her performance standards fell way short of the standards necessary to gain the nation success at international level, which is obvious for many sports in our country. How such persons are in the eyes of the Sports commission the ideal selectors baffles the rational mind."

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