By Tirivashe Nheweyembwa
It was Henry Ford who once remarked that, “ If everyone is moving forward together then success will take care of itself”, however, Henry Ford was proved right by Mashonaland Central the winners of the 2017 edition of the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Games which were held in Bindura from 7-11 April 2017. While it is a fact that Mashonaland Central were the emphatic winners of the Games by the number of gold medals (24 gold medals) followed by a distant Mashonaland West with 14 gold medals, one may want to understand the strategy that was employed in the preparatory stages and during the Games.
James Maganga SRC Provincial Sport Coordinator attributed their success to hard work and meticulous planning for the Games.
“When we left Gwanda in 2016, we were convinced that we needed to start the preparations early, therefore we build our team around 9 athletes who were in Gwanda, these athletes were also selected into Team Zimbabwe to the African Union Sports Council Region 5 under 20 Youth Games which were hosted in Luanda, Angola. The athletes in essence, they stopped training hence they were on top of their game.
“Most of our athletes were also involved with National Secondary School Heads (NASH) sport competitions and this gave us an urge over our competitors. We also realized that winning at multi disciplinary sport competitions required one to focus more on individual sports as opposed to team sports which will give you one medal. All our gold medals came from Athletics for the Visually Impaired thus vindicating our position that if you focus on individual sports you will win” said Maganga.
Also speaking after the competitions was the elated General Manager of Team Mashonaland Central Darlington Sithole said their outing to Gwanda 2016 were they came fifth was the turning point in which they changed both the strategy and approach to the Games. We used to field older athletes but the lessons in Gwanda taught us that without proper planning their success was going to be a wild goose chase. Above all we attributed our success to working as a team and teamwork took us to the Promised Land.
“When left Gwanda after the National Paralympic Games we were convinced that we could win the next edition of the Games only we had planned properly and the starting point was to build a strong and competitive team capable of winning medals for the province. In realizing this need we kept together the six athletes who include Shepherd Patrick and Grace Nyamadzawo all from Muzarabani District. The two were also selected into Team Zimbabwe to the AUSC Region 5 under 20 Youth Games which were held in Angola last year and they won gold medals.
“We also had a shift in focus in that we deployed our efforts to the juniors whom we believed had the potential to scale to greater heights if they are exposed to right the training and competitions. Furthermore, it was also evident that our performance was not going to improve if we had not invested in the juniors who were more active than the seniors who would just group a week before the Games.
The Sports and Recreation Commission through the Director Business Development and Marketing Daniel Kuwengwa applauded the stakeholders for their support towards the hosting of the Games.
“As an Organization we value the power of partnerships and we partnered TAF Sport and ZiMwana World Wide Trust, through their excellent leveraging we managed to secure sponsorship for the Games medals, T- Shirts and Cooking Oil for the Games from NMB Bank Limited and ZimGOLD Cooking Oil. This is a first for the Games and our hope is that as we progress into the future we will be able to secure more funding for the Games by getting more sponsors coming on board” Kuwengwa said.
The results of the Games are as follows:
The next edition of the Games is going to be hosted in Midlands will be hosting the 11th edition of the Games next year and are going to be held immediately after the Youth Games. More work for the Midlands province hopefully they will raise to the occasion.