The AUSC Region 5 Games Are Over: What Now?

The AUSC 2014 Region 5 games came to an end on Sunday with host Zimbabwe coming second on the medal table with a total of 93 medals following leaders South Africa who amassed 121 medals. There was a long drop to the third place country, Angola, who finished the games with 20 medals, with golds in basketball for men and women among them.

Zimbabwe shone in a variety of sports, winning bronze in basketball, silver in soccer and gold in netball, a variety of medals in tennis, boxing and judo, on the athletics field and in the swimming pool. The Region 5 games at the same time highlighted the tremendous young sporting talent that exists in Zimbabwe, while highlighting the need to take the development of our young sportsmen and women more seriously and with more attention to fitness and training.

Although the Region 5 games did not have a website or a functional Twitter feed, and the Facebook page didn’t post complete reports, the athletics events were all recorded electronically by the newly purchased TimeTronics equipment are posted online here:

The closing ceremony began with a parade of athletes and concluded with the Zimbabwean Minister of Sport, Andrew Langa, handing the torch to the Minister of Sport from Angola, who will host the next Region 5 Games in 2016.

Reflecting on the just concluding games, the Regional Organising Committee (ROC) Chairperson Mvuzo Mbebe declared them a success, but admitted challenges in building infrastructure and purchasing equipment on time: “We have no regrets for hosting the games here in Bulawayo. We only faced challenges in the delay of purchase of equipment as well as the completion of infrastructure of White City Stadium. We are surely going to rectify this and make sure the situation does not repeat itself when we host the games in Angola come 2016.” The mobile basketball court only arrived from South Africa two days into the games, and the athletics events were delayed because the tartan track had not been completed or painted before the opening of the games.

Mbebe was pleased with the standards of the Zimbabwe games: “We achieved the international standards, meaning the country can now qualify to host any international event. The environment was conducive and we had no major mishaps in relation to athletes well-being as our medical team was on point and readily available when injuries were identified and reported.”

Zimbabwe and in particular Bulawayo have been given a fantastic opportunity to host future national and international sporting events, with new state-of-the art facilities such as the renovated pool complex at Bulawayo Athletic Club, the renovated netball and tennis courts and the tartan track with electronic timing equipment at White City Stadium. What will be crucial will be a well-executed management plan to maintain the facilities to high standards and to take advantage of them to further develop Zimbabwe’s young sporting talent. The mobile basketball court is also a major national asset that will need to find a permanent home where it can be used to host major basketball tournaments.

National sporting associations should consider holding major 2015 sporting events in Bulawayo to take advantage of these fantastic facilities. For example, the NASH national track and field championships for March 2015 are currently scheduled to take place at Victoria High in Masvingo. Perhaps NAAZ could consider moving them to White City Stadium in Bulawayo so that our nation’s top young track and field athletes could experience running on the new track, using the new jump pits, and getting their times recorded as well.

Now that the buses and planes are pulling out of Bulawayo, we applaud the city and the athletes, the parents, coaches, volunteers and fans for supporting a tremendous show of youth sporting talent over the past ten days.

How do you think Zimbabwe can best capitalize on the Region 5 experience as we head into a new sporting year?