2014 Africa Region 5 U20 games get underway
Teams participating at the Africa Union Sport Council Region 5 Games, previously known as Zone VI Games, which will be taking place in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, have gathered for the games which get underway this weekend. Athletes from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and the host nation Zimbabwe will battle for medals in athletics, basketball, boxing, judo, netball, soccer, swimming and tennis.
Zimbabwe’s Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, challenged the host nation to rise to the occasion at a send-off ceremony for the team in Bulawayo.
“I am happy that as government we have done everything possible to ensure that the basic needs of the team are attended to. You have to remember that your needs were made possible through the use of public funds and you need to justify your worthiness. You are Zimbabwean ambassadors to the games, show Region 5 what you are made of, paint Zimbabwe gold,” Langa said.
This is the sixth version of these games.
Team Namibia left for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on November 30 for the games set for December 5 to 14.
Namibia competes in football (men and women), track and field, boxing, netball, swimming and tennis.
The team of 125 athletes consists of Paralympic athletes. Team manager Victoria Katukula, who is a sports officer in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, told Nampa the team is ready to compete. “The athletes were in a training camp for the past week, and they are ready even though we did not have enough time to prepare due to some players writing exams. But we are going to fight for medals,” she said. The athletes were accompanied by coaches, administrators and medical personnel. Under-20 women’s football team coach, Bertus Bock said his team will come home with silverware from Bulawayo.
“We have been preparing for a month now with the girls and they are excited to play at the championships and show what they are made off. The only problem we had was that some players who joined the team from the outside regions were a bit unfit, but they have made progress,” he stated.
His team include players like Annouska Kordom, Memory Ngonda and Lovisa Mulunga, who represented Namibia at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Championship hosted in Namibia in October this year.
Namibia finished second in the 2012 edition of the Zone Six Games held in Lusaka, Zambia in 2012.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee announced a squad of 179 athletes who will be taking part in a total of eight sports in the Region 5 Games this year and these include: athletics, swimming, basketball, netball, judo, boxing, netball and football.
As expected, the bulk of the squad will come from athletics, football and swimming. These codes will feature 44, 36 and 31 athletes respectively.
South Africa have dominated among the Region 5 countries which include: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mauritius.
The games, which are held bi-annually on a rotational basis, were previously held in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2012 and Team South Africa retained the first position on the medals table, bringing home a total of 138 medals.
Prior to that, at the 2010 Region 5 Games in Swaziland, South Africa bagged a total of 110 medals, which included 53 gold, 41 silver and 16 bronze and achieved first position.
“These Games represent yet another great opportunity for our youth to excel and shine among the African Region Five countries,” said SASCOC President Gideon Sam.
We urge our youth to embrace the main aim of the event, which is to use sports to achieve peace, integration and unity in Africa and also use sport as a vehicle for encouraging people to develop and come together irrespective of colour, economic status, political inclination, class or gender,” Sam added.
SASCOC CEO, Tubby Reddy added, “Over the years, our athletes have performed extremely well in these games, and we expect them to excel even further this year.”
“Every medal is extremely hard fought for so go to Zimbabwe and outshine the rest of the Region 5 countries and bring honour back to South Africa.”
“SASCOC wishes you all the best in your competition and hopes that the nation will rally behind you during the games,” concluded Reddy. – Southern Times Writer/Chronicle/ SASCOC/NAMPA