10 Days Until Region 5 Games

Bulawayo is gearing up to host seven nations for the African Union Sports Commission Region 5 Games which will take place in the City of Kings from December 5-14. Final touches are being put on the venues, including the laying of a new tartan track and construction of jumping pits at White City Stadium, as well as the total renovation of Bulawayo Swimming Pool in preparation for the games. Given that the games are for U20 players, the vast majority of athletes competing are high school students. Citing financial difficulties the Seychelles announced this past weekend that they are withdrawing from the games, leaving 9 countries competing alongside hosts Zimbabwe: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia. Zambia is enthusiastically preparing for the games, sending 94 people including 58 athletes. Team Zambia started camp on November 23 at the Zambian Olympic Youth Development Centre.Given the size of their country and the depth of their youth sport development, Team South Africa dominated the 2012 version of the games held in Zambia, bringing home 138 medals and the 2010 edition in Swaziland where they brought home an equally impressive 110 medals. South Africa is equally confident of their success in the upcoming games, sending the largest country delegation with 179 athletes including 44 in athletics, 36 in football and 31 in swimming. COSAFA announced the seeding for the football tournament at the games. Group A, with Zimbabwe as the top seed, will also include Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland. Group B, with South Africa as the top seed, will also include Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia. Seychelles was supposed to be part of Group B. The winner of each group will play each other in the final for the gold. Team Zimbabwe remains confident of their home court advantage, despite the fact that it faced a number of challenges in training given the timing of the games. Incomplete teams haved gathered in Bulawayo in the last two weeks to prepare to face their competitors. A Level L6 and U6 students have not been able to join camp on time, trickling in this week as their ZIMSEC and Cambridge exams finish with the last exam as late as November 28. Students writing ZIMSEC O level exams, who make up a majority of the football and netball teams, for example, had to leave camp days after joining to return to their schools for this full week to rewrite English and Mathematics O Level exams. The rewritten exams were as a result of the recent exam leakages which rocked the country. The full Team Zimbabwe is expected back in camp this Saturday, just one full week before the start of the games. For Zimbabwe, the Region 5 games present a unique opportunity for students chosen from a wide variety of high schools to join together as national sides during the ten day games. SSN wishes Team Zimbabwe all the best as it defends its home territory and keeps medals at home.