The Zimbabwe National Youth and Games that were originally set to begin on Sunday in Gweru began in earnest yesterday (Monday) after a day’s delay to allow polishing up of administrative issues.
The games, which are expected to last the next two weeks in the Midlands capital, will see almost 3 000 athletes from two blocks which have been set up from across the country, competing in various competitions which include track, field, off field competitions and ball games.
Monday saw the first block, which mostly consists of the under 23 and open Paralympic categories for the newly introduced virtual provinces take off as all athletes fight for medals and places in the national team.
Successful athletes will represent the country in the upcoming continental competitions.
Sporting disciplines underway for the under 23s competitions include athletics, basketball, chess, netball, football, darts, volleyball, pool among others.
Tennis became a nonevent after the provinces failed to provide teams.
For the Paralympic athletics competition categories, included are the visually impaired, hearing impaired, intellectually challenged and amputees races.
Blind football had to be cancelled after only one province managed to field a team while wheel chair competitions also became a none event as only three provinces had teams instead of a minimum of four provinces.
Sitting volleyball also followed the same fate after only two provinces affiliated for the games as well.
The second block which mostly consists of the under 18 categories will begin on the fourth of August and end on the 10th of August.
Speaking during a press briefing from the command centre at Gweru Polytechnic College over the weekend, Sports and Recreation Commission Director General, Prince Mupazviriwo said the organising committee for the hosting of the games has put everything in place and the Midlands Province will host ‘memorable’ games.
“Everything in terms of accommodation, food and all the necessary logistics have been put in place. We have been moving around with the Local Organising Committees trying to make sure that every detail has been attended to.
“So we are very much geared to host these rebranded games, we are more than ready,” Mupazviriwo said.
He emphasized that the games have been rebranded and focusing on quality as opposed quantity which will produce a top-class national team, which is an honour for the province to be the first to host such and set the pace.
National Youth and Paralympic Games Chief Executive Officer Dr James Chivivi assured all athletes that none will face challenges throughout their stay as the numbers have reduced to manageable levels and the LOC is still running around to ensure the smooth running of the games.
“This is Midlands which is the heart of the whole country and I assure you that no athlete is going to sleep on the floor and we are so definite that all our institutions are ready to accommodate these athletes.
“When it comes to feeding, we are trying our level best to put the bolts and nuts together to make sure that from day one they are going to find their food ready,” Dr Chivivi said.
Sources from within the organising committee said the available food so far is enough to feed the athletes for the coming four days and more food, especially relish, is expected.
The official opening ceremony of the games will be held at Mkoba Stadium on Wednesday where President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be Guest of Honour and expected to give a speech and mark the official opening of the games.