Cossasa games a success – Zimbabwe retain title for the third consecutive year

By Ellina Mhlanga

HARARE – Up-and-Coming athletes from the Southern African Region showcased their talent last week at the Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa Athletics Championships in Harare to show that the future of sport in this part of the world remains good.

The competition for Under-13s, Under-15s and Under-17s brought together more than 400 athletes from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and hosts Zimbabwe at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

The Under-15s were competing for the first time as the competition previously focused on the other two age-groups only.

The championship, held over three days, saw Zimbabwe retaining the title for the third consecutive year.

They also won the competition in 2011.

And last week they underlined their status as one of the emerging strong teams at junior level in the region claiming 95 medals – 40 gold, 26 silver and 29 bronze after dominating most of the events.

They were followed by Namibia in second place with 75 medals – which featured 19 gold, 32 silver and 24 bronze – while in third place were Botswana who got 18 gold medals, 25 silver and 26 bronze.

Malawi were on the bottom of the medals table with just one gold medal. And for them it was a learning experience as they were making their maiden appearance in the regional competition after becoming a member of Cossasa.

The young athletes battled it out for honours in various track and field events from 100m, 200m, 400, 800, 1500m, 200m hurdles, 300m hurdles, 400m hurdles, long jump, shot put, discus, high jump and javelin throw.

The championships provide a platform for athletes within the region to showcase their talent and graduate to a bigger stage.

For Zimbabwe the major highlight was an improvement in the field events where they managed to pick more than 10 gold medals, having previously struggled in this area.

National Secondary School Heads, head in charge of athletics, Philip Chikomwe said they have made some strides in the field events.

“We expected Botswana to give us a tough time but they failed to meet our standard in the track where they are very good.

“And Namibia also, they were good in field events, they dominated us for the past four years but we have made inroads in the field events.

“We got about 10 to 15 of our gold medals from field events,” said Chikomwe.

The competition has also proved to be a springboard for some athletes as they have gone on to represents the country at senior level.

And the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe have also taken keen interest in the event as they have come in to provide the expertise to ensure the team represent the country well.

In his message during the championships, Cossasa president, Johnson Madhuku paid tribute to their member countries for their continued support for school sport.

“As the Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa, we happily and proudly salute all the SADC member countries for their heavy investment in school sport and Cossasa.

“This is a wise and worthy cause because it’s truism that school sport forms the bedrock or foundation of all sport developments and achievement programmes for any nation. And participation in regional sport championships also has several political, social, economic and educational benefits,” Madhuku said.

Madhuku added that they are also encouraged by the acknowledgment they get from the African Union Sports Council Region Five for the role Cossasa continue to play in the development of sport in the Southern Africa Region.

“As Cossasa we are excited that the regional sport governing body, the AUSC Region Five, has unequivocally indicated their very strong support and weight in Cossasa because of its initiative and critical role in the development of school sport in the region.

“To this end our visibility and significance are witnessed in such competitions and explains why we are here in Zimbabwe.’’

“We therefore call upon all the other Cossasa member countries who aren’t here today to quickly join this great family and enjoy the “goodness of fit” together. It’s expensive yes, but worthwhile,” said Madhuku during the competition last week.

Other member countries are Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.

Next year’s championships will be held in Botswana. They have hosted the event before.

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