The year 2022 comes to an end today, midnight to be precise.
In retrospect, it has been a year of mixed fortunes on all fronts, sport included. There have been some remarkable achievements by our athletes both at home and on the international scene.
Who will forget the incredible feat achieved by boxer Kudakwashe Chivandire, who made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to win a World Boxing Council gold title away in Zambia and later defending it successfully on home soil?
What about golfer Scott Vincent winning three international titles across the continents and Isaac Mpofu reigning supreme at the Durban International Marathon in South Africa?
The African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games team also did the nation proud after coming home with 82 medals including 12 gold, 25 silver and 47 bronze.
The netball team qualified for the 2023 Netball World Cup and long distance runner Mpofu punched his ticket for the 2024 Olympic Games as one of the early birds.
There is a lot of positivity that can be talked about. At the same time, it is a bit reckless to ignore the downside of things in sport this year. The negativity that stalked football, the country’s most followed sport, was the major put-off across all sporting codes.
The suspension of ZIFA’s membership by FIFA was a big blow to the game and more so to the image of the country because of the bad headlines that it attracted on global media.
The suspension was inevitable because of the corrupt state the game found itself in. But, as the curtain comes down on 2022, that is all now water under the bridge.
What is needed now is the way forward, the strategy and vision to make our football, and sport in general, great in the region and beyond.
The New Year usually comes with renewed hope and fresh aspirations for everyone. So it is with all the athletes and clubs that they present. The nation also looks forward to improved fortunes on the international front on all sporting events.
Zimbabwe is privileged to have athletes and teams competing on the global stage in 2023. The hope for success and more medals coming our way is always infinite.
The Zimbabwe men’s cricket team and the Zimbabwe Under-19 Women’s team will set the tone on the international fora this January.
Then the women’s side is set to travel to South Africa next week for the inaugural ICC Women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup while the men’s team will host Ireland in three T20I games and as many One Day Internationals at Harare Sports Club in the next few weeks.
This is just the start but there are many events to look forward to. World Boxing Council super-bantamweight champion Chiwandire will be defending her title for the second time.
In golf, Scott Vincent will play in the LIV Series Golf League following a successful season in which he won the International Series Order of Merit in 2022.
The netball team have another World Cup appointment in 2023, their second in succession after playing at the previous edition in Liverpool, England in 2019.
Then there are the swimming competitions, tennis, the Olympic qualifiers, the Africa Games and many more events that are lined up for 2023.
So what is key is to plan in advance. Success in professional sport does not come by accident. It was sad the last time out when Chiwandire was preparing for the two crucial fights that she won this year.
The haphazard manner which preceded her trip to Zambia to face Catherine Phiri and the title defence fight against Mexican Zulina Munoz which almost failed to take place, unearthed some serious challenges in terms of planning for events.
Hopefully in 2023 there will not be a repeat of the glitches when she faces another Mexican challenger Yamileth Mercado.
The sports administrators need to up their game in 2023. The success or failure of the athletes and teams hinges heavily on planning and preparations, which are their areas of responsibility.
Since 2022 is almost beyond us, hopefully the programmes of events and the budgets are already in place. We also hope the facilities are in place and in good condition for use, come January.
We also hope that athletes and administrators have learnt from their successes and the mistakes they made in the past year. A fresh approach is needed in 2023.