Government last night underlined their new thrust on sport when they rewarded the country's sportspersons for their success with the 2018 COSAFA Cup champions, the Warriors, the mainstay of reception hosted in Harare. The Government gave each athlete $1 000 as a token of appreciation for their achievements and this included members of the Warriors and Mighty Warriors who were also present at the function.
The Ministry of Sport, Arts and Recreation hosted the dinner for the triumphant Warriors and the African Union Sports Council Region Five Regional Annual Sports Awards winning athletes.
The Warriors lifted the COSAFA Cup for the sixth time over the weekend and the Mighty Warriors were recognised belatedly for their efforts over the years.
AUSC Region Five Regional Annual Sports Awards winners, Tanyaradzwa Muzinda, who got the Junior Sportswoman of the Year award and Sportsman of the Year with a disability Elford Moyo, also got the same amount.
It was the same given to renowned karateka Samson Muripo and wheelchair racing athlete Margaret Bangajena, who were finalists at the same awards held last month in South Africa.
Ultra-marathon runner Marko Mambo and Wilfred Mashaya, who has made a name for himself in martial arts, were also rewarded.
Mambo finished in a credible fifth place at the Comrades Marathon on Sunday while Mashaya was crowned the World Kobudo champion in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday at the 2018 Barcelona Hall of Honours Martial Arts awards ceremony.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, in a speech read on his behalf by Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perence Shiri, hailed football for bringing the nation together through the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors exploits.
"I am delighted that once again football has reigned supreme in uniting the nation through breathtaking performances by our two senior national teams.
"I also have the pleasure this evening to convey warm regards to the Warriors and Mighty Warriors from His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa.
"I am aware and well briefed that the recent successes by our national teams comes at a time when the nation is still celebrating the achievements that have been registered by other Zimbabwean athletes at regional level.
"Only recently, on 26 May, our new motocross champion Tanyaradzwa Muzinda managed to shrug off competition from the 10 countries in the region by winning the Regional Junior Sportswoman of the Year.
"On that same night wheelchair racing ace Elford Moyo was also voted as the Sportsman of the Year with a Disability in the face of nominees from South Africa and Namibia," Vice President Chiwenga said.
The Vice President also revealed that government was working on governance and remuneration policy to ensure athletes were adequately rewarded for their efforts.
"It has come to our attention that female athletes are subject to victimisation physically and in terms of remuneration.
"Many a times our teams, particularly the Mighty Warriors, have been left stranded due to remuneration issues and success by the national netball teams at world have gone unnoticed.
"In this regard, and as a follow-up to address this cancer to our football and other sports Government, through the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Recreation, is developing a governance and remuneration policy to guide the general and specific guidelines in the administration of sports and remuneration of athletes in the country.
"It is also my considered view that we, as prime administrators of sport in general and football in particular, should ensure a safe environment for children and girls within football by creating deliberate regulatory frameworks for their protection," Chiwenga said. Chiwenga sad the resilience and show of character by Zimbabwean athletes "is a mirror image of the resurgent pathway that our sport is taking local, regionally and continentally.
"It is a manifest expression and ratification of our local selection processes and the quality of sportspersons the country has at its disposal.
"As we are gathered here tonight, it is important to note and realise the significant role that sport in general, and football in particular, has played in bringing the nation together.
"The fond memories of the Warriors Dream Team still linger in our hearts and the qualification and subsequent participation at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro by the Mighty Warriors still remains an embodiment of success in the history of sport.
"Only in the past week you made Zimbabwe proud again by demonstrating your prowess as Warriors and Mighty Warriors through team and individual heroics.
"Your heroics did not skip the attention of his Excellency the President Cde ED Mnangagwa when he jokingly said, and I quote, 'As we currently debate which candidate has the safest hands for Zimbabwe, we can all agree the answer without a doubt George Chigova, the Warriors goalkeeper who has saved five penalties this week to get the Warriors to the COSAFA finals'."
Vice President Chiwenga said the Government was also looking at using sport to help eliminate social fragmentations through instilling sound management in the sector which would also benefit the nation economically.
Minister Kazembe Kazembe also hailed the teams for their success and appealed to the government for more investment into sport.
"Honourable Vice President, it is our plea as the sport sector that there be considerable investment by Government to support high performance in sport in the country.
"It has come to my knowledge that the country has been lagging behind in terms of scientific approaches to sport and is currently devoid of equipment for the general physical preparedness and sport specific preparedness of our athletes both at national and local level.
"It is my fervent hope that through deliberate high performance programmes and continual efforts from National Sport Associations as well as sport delivery agents, the country will continue churning out competent athletes at the elite level," said Kazembe.