Let us assume the article that appeared in The Sunday Mail is correct and I am sure it is. Yesterday I read a sad story about a 22 year old young man who is regarded as an ‘African and Zimbabwean tennis champion’ – Takanyi Garanganga. He has been based in the US since he was 16 years old. Takanyi’s parents have also been his sole sponsor. For Takanyi to continue playing the sport and achieve his potential; he requires $20,000 a month for 18 months after which he will be in a position to sustain himself by playing a variety of tournaments across the world. The $20,000 required will amongst other things pay for:
- 1) A head coach
- 2) A strength and conditioning coach
- 3) A mental coach
- 4) Consultations and transport costs across the US.
According to the article, Takanyi’s father works for an NGO in Botswana and has funded Takanyi’s tennis career from there. I made similar observations shortly after the just ended London Olympics. We are often quite happy to show how proud we are of our national sports teams and various individuals, yet very slow at putting our money where our mouth is. The reality is without Kirsty Coventry’s family most importantly and sponsors like Econet and Arena to name a few; I often wonder how much our beloved national heroine would have achieved without them?
Shortly after reading the article I turned to twitter and tweeted:
‘Sad that a young & talented Zim tennis player Takanyi Garanganga aged 22 is contemplating quitting the sports due to high costs of playing’
@thandowako responded with this:
‘the tragedy is in the fact that as #Zimbabweans we have no culture of recognising and appreciating talent’
@starfmbreakfast contributed with this tweet:
‘we are not a sports country. We pretend we r but really are not. From Government to corporates, we give sport very little attention’
These tweets support a question I raised during the first #263Chat on the 25th September 2012:
#Q3 Given Zim’s exploits in sports this year, isn’t time to really promote sport as a national priority.Pls discuss ur ideas. #263Chat
I ask that question again now. Given the natural talented Zimbabweans out there, shouldn’t we invest more in them? What really compels ‘The Beast’ from playing for Zimbabwe (rethoretical question)? There are several other Zimbabwean sports men and women who ply their craft for other countries whom I haven’t mentioned at all but they do exist. Look at countries like Australia for examples of this.
Whilst we celebrate when Kirsty wins another medal or another race, we are not as prepared to put our money where our mouth is. That, is rather unfortunate I find. Zimbabwean sportsmen and women shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of funding their talent on their own. They are after all representing our beloved nation. Are they not worthy of the support and indeed the sacrifice on our part? In the past we have thrown large sums of money at people who have taken part in TV shows like Big Brother Africa. Not trying to compare BUT wouldn’t it be wiser to invest that same amount of money in something that could catapult our beloved to new heights and perhaps play a small but vital role in helping to ‘rebrand Zimbabwe’ amongst other things?
I have often advocated for the splitting of David Coltart’s ministry into 2 ministries – education and sports. There have long been signs that more focus should be spent on Zimbabwean sports. It is time for our government to prioritise sports and indeed to create a separate ministry dedicated to this vital component in our society. Without a shift in the current status quo, cases such as Takanyi’s one will unfortunately continue.