9 December 2017

Zimbabwe: NAAZ Rope in Former Athletes

THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe have set their eyes on developing some of the country's former top and current athletes into coaches as part of their plans towards turning around their fortunes.

The athletics mother body is running a 12-day International Association of Athletics Federations level one coaching course at White City Stadium in Bulawayo. And they have engaged former athletes such as Themba Ncube and Gabriel Chikomo. Cuthbert Nyasango is also attending the course which focuses mainly on coaches working with youths.

NAAZ president Tendai Tagara and director for coaching, talent identification and development, Lisimati Phakamile are the course facilitators. Tagara said the involvement of former athletes at a coaching level is key for the development of the sport.

"This is a 12-day course according to the international standards where we can train a maximum of 24 coaches and we are happy that we have all the athletes that we invited for the course. One of the things I am happy with is that some of our top runners who are going towards their retirement have also attended and those who have retired are also there.

"Themba Ncube is there, Gabriel Chikomo is there and we have also Cuthbert Nyasango, who is the chairman of the athletes' commission and who was a representative for Zimbabwe in London World Championships.

"This is a good indication that we are setting a good foundation for the future of this federation. We are trying to bring the former athletes in athletics. We believe when we are gone athletics can still go on.

"And we are proud as a federation that when we retire we can hand over the baton to our young former athletes who have seen it all. They have been in the athletics arena and coming back to them it means they are consolidating their federation," said Tagara.

The course, which has also attracted coaches from schools comes at a time the national association is concluding their activities for 2017 and shifting their focus to 2018.

Tagara said they are grateful to their stakeholders such as naph and nash who have been supportive of their programmes and added that it's only wise that they invest in the school system as it is their base from which they identify most of the talent.

"If you look at the Youths Championships, the Youth Olympics, the World Junior teams they are in the school system so we are happy when schools attend. And we are happy with the relations that we have with naph and nash. So as a federation we feel if we continue working like this, athletics will never be the same again. We would have set a strong foundation.

"Finally, we are also happy with the support that we are getting from the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee in preparing our coaches and support for these coaches. We can only perform when we have got the best coaches," Tagara said. The NAAZ president challenged the likes of Ncube and Nyasango to lead the way in assisting upcoming athletes to follow their footsteps having qualified and represented the country at major international competitions themselves.

Nyasango has been to the Olympics twice, in 2012 and 2016 and the World Championships as well while Ncube was part of the 4x400m relay team that won a gold medal at the African Championships in 2004.

The course runs until December 18.

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