‘Sport is now an industry’

The regional sporting showcase, which runs from June 26 to July 5, saw three SADC countries withdrawing on the eleventh hour as participants from nine countries ‘ Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia ‘ took to the fields across the capital. Malawi, Madagascar and Tanzania failed to make it.

A small crowd made up of schoolchildren, braved the chilly conditions to witness the opening ceremony. By Wednesday evening, the games had started to attract a crowd due to the World Cup break.

Angula said unlike in the past, sport today was an industry which can contribute to the development of a country.

“Gone must be the days, when sport was only taken and viewed as the pre-occupation of a selected few. Sport is now an industry. It is a large booming industry which contributes tremendously to the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of countries. One has just to look at what is happening in Germany at the moment.

“I am referring here to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. We also need to look at the different industries which benefit directly from sport such as manufacturing of beverages, tourism, sportswear and sports equipment,” he said.

He said SADC leaders had realised that sport has the power to unite people in addition to fostering cultural and social ties.

“Heads of state of our various countries, have long realised the power that sport has, in uniting people, as well as bringing about the required socio-economic-cultural-political changes, in a positive sense in our countries and communities,” said Angula.

“These Games must bring the youth of the SADC region together to compete, meet, mix, form lasting friendships and practically experience person to person integration. Our youth must learn that they are one people, who belong to one region and one continent,” he said.

Angula noted that sport was used as a tool to fight apartheid.

“There was a time when we in Southern Africa, effectively used sport to help bring the system of apartheid to an end. Sports persons and their associations in the then independent Frontline States, worked closely, with international sports organisations to isolate and eventually destroy apartheid,” said Angula.

On the eve of the opening ceremony, Namibia’s Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture John Mutorwa said the youth should not be allowed to cheat in any form.

Speaking at the opening of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Council of Ministers meeting, Mutorwa said cheating by claiming to be under-20 years of age should not be allowed.

He said officials should not be allowed to urge, assist or pretend to be ignorant of cheating by the youth under their charge.

“Sport at any time and during all times, should be guided by the principle of fair play. Our youth should be encouraged and indeed be assisted to respect rules and regulations and those applying them at all times,” said Mutorwa.

He added: “Our Council made a very important decision, that hosting the Under 20 Youth Games, should be on a rotational basis from one country to another and mandatory and that the game be held every two years, this is important that our youth will congregate in different countries of our Region, every two years.”

According to the Minister, South Africa will be the next host of the Youth Games in 2008, followed by Swaziland in 2010 and Zambia in 2012.

The Council of Ministers meeting was attended by Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and host Namibia.

The ministers awarded the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Secretary-General Ashford Mamelodi (Botswana), two athletes, Maria Mutola (Mozambique) and South Africa’s Natalie du Toit for their outstanding contribution to regionalsport.Du Toit is a disabled world-class swimmer .At the age of 14-years old, du Toit competed at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur but in 2001 she had her left leg amputated after an accident. The amputation did not stop her from pursuing her swimming passion when in 2003; she won gold at the All Africa Games competing against able-bodied swimmers.

She went on to clinch silver in the 800-meters freestyle and bronze in the 400-meters freestyle at the Afro Asians Games the same year.

July 2006
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