Minority sports feel abandoned

Minority sports feel abandoned

Stakeholders in the sports industry have blamed the country’s poor fortunes in international competitions on, among others, lack of proper infrastructure.

Government and district councils have been  blamed for lack of will to invest in minority sports infrastructure.

They say government’s focus has been on football where it has embarked on ensuring that every district has a stadium while little attention has been given to minority sports.

Judo Association of Malawi has said it is sad that priority is only given to football.

The association’s general secretary Osborne Banda said: “It is sad and unfortunate that some people still think sports is only about football. We need to give our youth a variety of choice.

“Denying them that opportunity is a violation of human rights. One of the important pillars of safe and inclusion in sports is the availability and accessibility of facilities and it is the responsibility of government to provide that.”

On his part, Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam)  president Mpilo Mizere believes youths should be given a chance to pursue sports disciplines of their choice and capability through provision of safe sports facilities.

“We need to keep our youth busy with positive things that will help develop them. We hope authorities can reconsider and allocate space for other recreational facilities such as chess and other minority sports,” he said.

Mizere said due to  lack of multipurpose sports facilities, Chessam has embarked on a schools’ project.

He said: “We have unique strategies for chess development among the youth. We try to promote education and chess, so we use schools as venues. For example, we have this big initiative of Chess in Education where we have the National Schools Chess League.

“Hundreds of youths are taking part and we use schools to facilitate these games, but having many public sports centres in the country would make a huge difference.”

Kickboxing Association of Malawi general secretary Bright Limani, who is also technical director for Weightlifting and Powerlifting Association of Malawi, has called on government to start taking minority sports seriously.

“How can minority sports grow if they are not provided with facilities and infrastructure? It is high time government started prioritising minority sports. Minority sports have huge potential to bring more glory to this country,” he said.

Old sports facilities such as Kamuzu Institute for Sports and Blantyre Youth Centre not only lack modern amenities and equipment, but  can also not accommodate population growth as they were designed to accommodate a small proportion of youths.

The 2024-2039 Draft Blantyre City Urban Structure Plan  does not include a sports centre and instead focus has been on “renovating Kamuzu Stadium or demolishing it to build another stadium”.

In the Central Region, the Lilongwe Community Centre has not been functioning for close to a decade now.

On a number of occasions, sports disciplines such as  netball, volleyball and basketball have been forced to pay exorbitant fees to host international games at facilities owned by the private sector.

In most southern African countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania, almost every township has a sport centre where communities and youths take part in sports activities.

The situation is worse in public schools where the only facilities are bumpy football pitches and  hard surfaced netball courts.

The Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) has constructed the Olympia Washington Centre in Lilongwe, but it is unsafe for youths as its  pitch has a bare surface and there are no indoor facilities.

During a recent meeting with Minister of Youth and Sports Uchizi Mkandawire, MOC president Jappie Mhango cited poor sports facilities and also trainers’ lack of  knowledge as some of the factors retarding sports growth and failure to qualify for the Olympics.

“We are far behind in terms of facilities compared to other countries and  our coaches also need frequent refresher courses or training to be at par with their foreign counterparts. We need to invest heavily in sports if we are to get medals and make it to continental tournaments,”  he said .

Mkandawire said in a recent interview that government is committed to developing all sports disciplines and providing sports facilities.

He said: “The construction of the Griffin Saenda Sports Complex and Aquatic Centre is enough evidence for this and shows government commitment to ensure all sports disciplines have facilities.

“The Griffin Saenda  will house netball, basketball and volleyball courts  Through the 2022 Youth Games Legacy government is also constructing an indoor basketball court in Lilongwe.”

The post Minority sports feel abandoned first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Minority sports feel abandoned appeared first on Nation Online.