By Tirivashe Nheweyembwa

The recently held Women in Sport Conference which was held on 15 September 2017 in Harare at the Crown Plaza Hotel has been described as a resounding success by many people across the society. The conference which was jointly organized by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) targeted men and women who are involved in sport and recreation activities at various levels and it ran under the theme, ‘Empowering women through sport and recreation’.

Several high level presenters of who are accomplished in their own made different presentations which ranged from an Overview of Sport and Recreation in Zimbabwe which was presented by Mrs Eugenia Chidhakwa the Director of Sport Development and Promotion in the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Mrs Anna Mguni the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer also made an eye opening presentation on the Benefits of Sport and Recreation, Narrowing the Gap for Women and Sport as a Career, the Opportunities and Challenges for women. The Acting Town Clerk for the City of Harare Mrs Josephine Ncube touched on an important key driver in the delivery of Sport and Recreation programmes – The role of Local Authorities in promoting Women Sport, Debbie Jeans the highly experienced Trainer and Judoka presented on How to prevent sport related injuries. Mrs Beauty Nyamwanza the National AIDS Council Youth Coordinator also known as Mother General presented on Contemporary Social Issues their Implications on Sport and How to Overcome them while Yvonne Utaumire and Fortunate Sithole from the Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) co presented on the Role Sports Psychology in Sport. To cap it was Merit Munzwewembiri the veteran Sports Journalist took the delegates on Best Media Practices. Kirsty Coventry Africa’s most well decorated Olympian did a Skype presentation from Peru – South America where she was on International Olympic Committee Business   and her topic was on the triumphies and glory of an Olympian.

The conference was officially opened by the Minister of Sport and Recreation having men on the panel of presenters. He also noted that it was sad that 37 years after independence the country was still grappling with gender disparity in sport and challenged the organizers of the conference to come up concrete resolutions which could be infused in the National Sport and Recreation strategy.

‘I am aware that the National Sport and Recreation policy makes mention of the inclusion of women and the disabled however, this has to be buttressed by specific action programmes.

“This conference is one way in which we may be able to come up with specific resolutions which can then be followed up by various sport delivery agents” Hon. Makhosini Hlongwane said.

One of the participants, Mildret Hazel Sinikiwe Baye from Masvingo province also weighed in and said that the conference was an eye open though it would have been more ideal if it was held  over two or three days so that more time was devoted to group discussions and networking with other delegates.

“I was inspired and impressed by the Presenters, they had researched very well on their staff and we were equipped in all aspects, the only thing that needs to relooked into the future, is the duration of the conference which I think could have been longer to allow for group discussions and more networking with others.

“As I go back to Masvingo I am now energized to empower the other women and girls here in Masvingo so that we may stand up be counted among some of the mover and shakers in women sport programmes in this country”, said Baye.

The Director of Sport Promotion and Development Mrs Eugenia Chidhakwa who is also the past chairperson of the Women in Sport Commission for African Union Sports Council Region 5 was full of praise for the conference and described it as a conference with a difference.

“I have been privileged to attend many international Women in Sport Conferences across the globe, but this one stands out for as it was not a talk show rather it was based on constructive engagement, solid resolutions and practical approaches were made. The presenters were in sync with the delegates and that a huge difference from the rest of the conferences that I have attended before”, Chidhakwa added.

Another presenter from Bindura University of Science Education Sport Science Department Yvonne Utaumire was of the view that the conference was a success though more sports teachers and sports directors could have benefitted from this conference.

“I was happy with the crop of the delegates as they were able to constructively engage with the presenters and they could also articulate their experiences that made the discussion rich and well rewarding to both the presenters and the delegates. The time frame could be improved in the next edition so that people have space to interact and share more experiences but on the overall I would say the objectives were met’, Utaumire added.

The next conference will be held in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province in 2018 and individual provinces are being encouraged to host their own conferences and ideally bring their resolutions to the National Conference. It was indeed a worthwhile experience, a dream come true.

Let’s do this again next year.