Analysis: FREDRICK CHITANGALA
I AM very happy, exuberated and in rhapsodically high spirits. Of course, you might think it is because holiday is looming and Christmas is around the corner, the time to enjoy that quality time with the loved ones.
That is true, but with great rapture of delight, I am celebrating the news that the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) has been conferred the ‘Medal of Honour’ by the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five in Gaborone.
The medal was conferred by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi during the opening ceremony of the eighth edition of the Region Five Youth Games on December 7, 2018 and was received by the OYDC board of trustees chairperson Shakalima Simangolwa.
Zambia is taking part in the Region Five Games and is being represented by 74 athletes from different sports disciplines, which include athletics, boxing, football, judo, netball, swimming and tennis, who camped and trained at OYDC before they left on December 3, 2018.
On September 4, 2018, I did a column calling for investment in sport. I did accentuate the power that sport has to transform lives and air youthful energies.
This is exactly what OYDC has been doing to Zambia and the surrounding region.
AUSC Region Five honoured OYDC with this award because the centre is a meridian of sports development, social change and peace in the central and southern African region.
The accolade is bestowed on individuals, organisations, entities or groups that would have made significant contributions to the development of sport in the past two years.
For OYDC, this should mean more deliberate investment in the upgrading of facilities and infrastructure.
Access to suitable sport infrastructure is key to the advancement of sport as well as identification of talented athletes in preparation for high levels of competition such as Olympic Games.
A high performance centre that delivers both sport and social change programmes without a deliberate initiative to either replace or renovate existing facilities is a dead end.
Transformation of Zambian sport is dependent on a holistic sport development programme, which requires appropriate infrastructure as a critical means to enable access, talent identification and accelerated development of athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds.
OYDC is strategically positioned and stands ready to serve the region even better but the institution needs sustainable flow of resources needed to maintain the existing facilities in good working order and add new ones.
This award means a lot. It’s a timely call to ensure that in 2019, our New Year resolution should be focused on recreating OYDC as a world-class centre of excellence with state-of-the-art sports facilities and infrastructure aimed at providing a safe sporting environment.
Locally, we have re-dedicated our resolve to make OYDC more and more relevant to not only high performance and mass participation sports, but also to the community at large.
Participation in sports offers tremendous social, emotional and physical benefits for all.
We appeal to the corporate world to partner with OYDC in social change programmes that include sports camps, clinics, seminars for coaches, officials and sports administrators’ courses, Olympic education, culture education, entrepreneurship training, health services and literacy programmes for athletes.
OYDC remains a safe haven for talent identification and will continue to work with local and international sports federations to ensure that Zambia and the region continue to send athletes to competitive games and ensure that they bring honour back home.
We wish to thank the AUSC Region Five for recognising our contribution towards sports development.
The honour comes at a time when the centre is gradually working on becoming a self-sustaining institution in line with our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, whose vision is to be a world-class centre of excellence and conforms to our aspirations.
We believe that if we maintain this trajectory, and we don’t lose traction, OYDC will be the medal manufacturing factory, and Zambia will smile at the regional, continental and international podiums.
The good news is that the southern and central African region can now use OYDC, too, for their preparations and this means another income for not only OYDC but the nation as well. And then we can start talking about sports tourism. This is the Zambia I want.
The author is OYDC director.
Analysis: FREDRICK CHITANGALA