Kirsty hits ground run­ning

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Pet­ros Kausiyo and Ed­die Chikamhi

JUST days af­ter she was sworn in, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recre­ation Min­is­ter Kirsty Coven­try has wasted no time in get­ting down to busi­ness with the swim­ming leg­end meet­ing lead­ers of the coun­try’s two biggest as­so­ci­a­tions — ZIFA and Zim­babwe Cricket at her of­fices.

The min­is­ter, flanked by her deputy, Yeukai Sim­bane­gavi, and per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, Prince Mu­pazviriwo, said the meet­ings with ZIFA and ZC were the first of a series of such in­ter­ac­tions she would be hold­ing with sports as­so­ci­a­tions, youth or­gan­i­sa­tions, the arts and recre­ational sec­tors.

Coven­try told the The Her­ald that she in­tends to for­mu­late the right poli­cies to drive the turn­around that sport has been cry­ing out for af­ter in­ter­act­ing with the as­so­ci­a­tions and es­tab­lish­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the ground.

The leg­endary Olympian said there was no time to waste as she has al­ready be­gun con­sul­ta­tions with key pil­lars in the Min­istry of Sport and on Wed­nes­day she met with the Sport and Recre­ation board.

She said she is also look­ing to en­gage other stake­hold­ers in the youth, arts and recre­ation sec­tors.

The min­is­ter yes­ter­day hosted the ZIFA lead­er­ship, led by As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Philip Chiyangwa, who was ac­com­pa­nied by board mem­ber fi­nance Phile­mon Machana, chief ex­ec­u­tive Joseph Ma­mutse and le­gal ad­vi­sor Itai Ndudzo.

Be­fore en­gag­ing ZIFA, she had also met the ZC en­tourage com­pris­ing their chair­man Tavengwa Mukuh­lani, act­ing man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Give­more Makoni, head of cor­po­rate af­fairs Nesta Vaki and con­sul­tant Vince van der Bijl.

Coven­try said she had an un­der­stand­ing of what has been hap­pen­ing, es­pe­cially in sport where she has a strong back­ground, but had sought “much deeper ex­pla­na­tions from the re­spon­si­ble of­fi­cials”.

“What we have been fo­cus­ing on in the last few days is get­ting de­briefs from all the teams and the dif­fer­ent pil­lars from the youth, sport, art and recre­ation.”

Mukuh­lani was happy with the meet­ing and said his as­so­ci­a­tion, which has been reel­ing un­der huge debts and chal­lenges on-and-off the field, clar­i­fied their po­si­tion to the new min­is­ter.

“I can say we have had a very good meet­ing with the min­is­ter. This be­ing the first one, ob­vi­ously, it was more of a fa­mil­iari­sa­tion meet­ing since the min­is­ter is still new.

“It was all about try­ing to un­der­stand more about the sport and I am sure it’s part of the wider con­sul­ta­tions that will take place with all the as­so­ci­a­tions.

“Ob­vi­ously cricket, be­ing the sec­ond biggest (sport) in the coun­try, it was not sur­pris­ing they would start with us. The min­is­ter wanted us to give a back­ground of how cricket is struc­tured lo­cally and glob­ally.

“We dis­cussed var­i­ous is­sues and we also ex­plained our po­si­tion as an as­so­ci­a­tion with re­gards to where we stand fi­nan­cially and on cricket is­sues.

“We talked about our vi­sion and how we func­tion as an as­so­ci­a­tion. We also briefed the min­is­ter about the chal­lenges we are fac­ing.

“As a mat­ter of im­por­tance, we also had to ex­plain to the min­is­ter the real sit­u­a­tion ob­tain­ing with re­gards to cricket in Zim­babwe be­cause there has been a lot of things said on so­cial me­dia,” Mukuh­lani said.

Mukuh­lani said they are hop­ing for bet­ter days un­der the guid­ance of Coven­try.

“We want a def­i­nite Sport Pol­icy, a strate­gic plan from the min­istry that will guide the as­so­ci­a­tions to say this is what we want as Zim­babwe and this is how we want it done.

“As na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions, our strate­gies will then dove­tail into the na­tional mas­ter plan and once that hap­pens every­thing else flows nat­u­rally to­wards our de­sired goals.

“We also want an ac­tive in­ter­ac­tion with the min­istry.

“I am sure we will not miss the point if we get brief­ing from time to time with our Gov­ern­ment,” said Mukuh­lani.

Chiyangwa said ZIFA had wel­comed the ap­point­ment of Coven­try with great op­ti­mism that she will steer the grow­ing sport in­dus­try in the coun­try to greater heights.

“ZIFA warmly wel­comes the ap­point­ment of the new min­is­ter. The cur­rent lead­er­ship un­der­takes to un­equiv­o­cally work with the min­istry and com­ple­ment all min­istry poli­cies, pro­grammes and di­rec­tives in a way that seeks to de­velop the sport in­dus­try in the coun­try.

“ZIFA will al­ways be avail­able at short no­tice to en­gage with the par­ent min­istry when­ever called to do so. It is ZIFA’s plea that the Hon­ourable min­is­ter will con­tinue on this path of this par­tic­i­pa­tory lead­er­ship in re­solv­ing all chal­lenges be­dev­illing our sport,” Chiyangwa said.

The ZIFA and COSAFA pres­i­dent said their ind­aba with Coven­try and her deputy had also been wide-rang­ing and touched on is­sues per­tain­ing to the as­so­ci­a­tion’s op­er­a­tions, gov­er­nance and links with in­ter­na­tional bod­ies such as FIFA and CAF.

“The meet­ing went well and it ap­pears that the min­is­ter and her deputy were in a hear­ing mode al­low­ing us to ex­ten­sively present on the state of foot­ball in Zim­babwe. “The pre­sen­ta­tion cov­ered gov­er­nance, fi­nan­cial re­quire­ments, com­pe­ti­tions, re­la­tion­ship with FIFA, chal­lenges and rec­om­men­da­tions from ZIFA to the min­is­ter on the as­so­ci­a­tion’s ex­pec­ta­tions from Gov­ern­ment,” Chiyangwa said.

He said they also ap­praised the Min­is­ter of the strained re­la­tion­ship be­tween ZIFA and the Sports Com­mis­sion.

“The cur­rent ZIFA lead­er­ship has im­mensely ben­e­fited from the ad­vi­sory role the min­istry has been play­ing ever since it came into of­fice. The only chal­lenges have been from the reg­u­la­tory board (Sports Com­mis­sion) which seem to be on a mis­sion to fight the as­so­ci­a­tion.

“Such ef­forts have even grown louder in 2018, in the elec­tive year of ZIFA, and the sus­pi­cion within the foot­ball com­mu­nity is this may be de­lib­er­ately aimed at in­flu­enc­ing the de­sired out­come of some within the SRC.

“ZIFA be­lieves that there has, of late, been un­due in­flu­ence in the af­fairs of the as­so­ci­a­tion which FIFA dis­like and frowns upon.”

. . . Youth, Sport, Arts and Recre­ation Min­is­ter Kirsty Coven­try is seen here wel­com­ing Zim­babwe Cricket chair­man Tavengwa Mukuh­lani (left pic­ture) to her of­fices of­fi­cials (right) af­ter meet­ing lead­ers of the coun­try’s two biggest sport­ing dis­ci­plines in Harare yes­ter­day

HIT­TING THE GROUND RUN­NING and also in­ter­act­ing with ZIFA

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