PRESIDENT Mugabe has urged the region’s rising sportsmen and women to abstain from taking drugs and to respect the Anti-Doping Code in sport. Speaking during the official opening of the sixth edition of the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games at Barbourfields yesterday, President Mugabe, who is also the chairperson of Sadc, urged the youths to embrace Fair Play.
“I wish to implore all youths to always abstain from taking drugs and other intoxicating substances, I urge them to adhere to the safe and clean sport ethics as enshrined in the Anti-Doping Code,” President Mugabe said.
“All participants are expected to exhibit the best virtues of Olympism, that is commensurate with our intrinsic values of Ubuntu and these include integrity, fairness, co-operation, dutifulness, dedication patriotism, to mention but a few.
“May the winners be grateful in victory and the losers humble in defeat.”
The fight against drug abuse in sport received a major boost this year after the World Anti-Doping Agency secured an extra £8,5 million to fund new research aimed at revolutionising the way those who cheat are caught.
The funding is expected to increase to about £12 million by the end of the year.
President Mugabe, who arrived in Bulawayo yesterday accompanied by the Senior Minister of State Simon Khaya Moyo, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni and Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, said Zimbabwe felt proud to be given the responsibility to host the Games.
“It gives me unparalleled pleasure to preside over this momentous occasion marking the beginning of the Sixth edition of the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games here in this beautiful city of Bulawayo,” President Mugabe said.
“As a signatory to the Sadc protocol on information, sport and culture, Zimbabwe feels proud to have been entrusted with the responsibility to host the Sixth edition of the AUSC Region 5 Youth Games.
“We warmly welcome you all, participants and officials.
“Sport plays a vital part in human and social development, it builds friendship, tolerance, teamwork among people in Sadc and the wider world.
“These particular Games, for which we have gathered today, are targeted at the youths, specifically those under the age of 20.
“The Region has introduced this competition with the main aim of developing sport talent in young people. We are told that when the youths are below 20, they are at the best stage of bringing out and developing their psycho-social-physical sporting potential which they, as young people are endowed with.
“I, therefore, urge all participants-cum-competitors to use this regional competition to shine. Give it all your best.”
President Mugabe said all the participants, by just taking part in the Games, needed to consider themselves as winners.
“I wish now to say to you all, those who have organised, and even to the sporting young men and women who have come to Zimbabwe, whether you win or lose, I say Amhlope, Makorokoto, Best Wishes, that is, I wish all participants the best of luck.
“I don’t wish for any losers at all. I want all of you to win. At least, we in Zimbabwe, will say everyone who came here won, and what do I mean by that?
“By that I mean your coming here has made you, first and foremost, our friends, all of you seated there have become Zimbabwe’s friends. That you cannot lose.
“I will give you an award for that, all of you have won that and, together, we also have won.
“Bulawayo has also won, it has become the host of you all and so now, as I wish all participants the best of luck, it’s my singular honour and pleasure to declare the 2014 African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games officially open.”
President Mugabe said the Games have changed the landscape in Bulawayo.
“The African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games have in many respects changed the landscape of Bulawayo,” President Mugabe said.
“Since November 2012 when we signed the Protocol Agreement, the Government of Zimbabwe has immensely improved the local infrastructure of sport competition venues, accommodation facilities, road and communication network, the Games have, therefore, brought numerous business opportunities for local enterprises.
“They have also created employment opportunities for our people in Bulawayo and those from surrounding areas and even further afield.
“The holding of the African Union Sports Council Games in Bulawayo at this point in time has, indeed, provided fundamental support for our Zim-Asset.
“I appreciate that it has taken a lot of dedication and commitment to organise the regional Games, it has required teamwork and maximum effort from everyone involved.
“I, accordingly, wish to congratulate you all, the regional and local organising committees and respective chairpersons, on your thorough preparations which, undoubtedly, assure us of successful competitions.”
Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa thanked President Mugabe for making sure the Games came to Bulawayo.
Meanwhile, the Young Mighty Warriors slumped to a 0-5 defeat at the hands of their South African counterparts at Barbourfields last night.