ZAMBIA was last night bestowed with the Chairman’s Special Award at the inaugural Regional Annual Sports Awards (RASA) in recognition of the country’s leadership role in executing sport and recreation development programmes.
According to the statement released to the media by Press Secretary at he Zambian Embassy in South Africa,Nicky Shabolyo, the RASA, which were held at a well-attended colourful ceremony in Johannesburg, are organised under the auspices of the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five which comprises Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The award which was presented by Angola’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Goncalves Muandumba, is bestowed on a country that has taken a leadership role in the implementation of the AUSC Region Five programmes and has excellently executed sport and recreation development programmes. Deserving countries are also expected to have produced athletes and teams that have excelled in bringing home medals from international championships and events.
Zambia’s Acting High Commissioner to South Africa, Ms. Philomena Kachesa, who received the award has described the accolade as encouraging as it served to show that the efforts that the Zambian Government was making in promoting sports in the country were being noticed and recognised by not only Zambians but the international community as well.
Ms. Kachesa cited the construction of sports infrastructure such as stadia and sports development centres around the country as some of the areas in which the Government had been resolved and ensured that substantial amounts of financial investment were made in order to help develop sport across the country.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr. Gert Oosthuizen said that the athletes, coaches, administrators, journalists and all other teams who received awards for their outstanding performances were champions of African unity.
Mr. Oosthuizen urged everyone to continue to use their positions in society to advocate for a united, free and better Africa that was prosperous for the benefit of its people.
AUSC Region Five General Manager, Mr. Stanley Mutoya said the accolades were bestowed on athletes, coaches, member countries, journalists and teams that had produced outstanding performances in sport at regional and international level.
The awards, dominated by South Africa, were in 11 categories namely Junior Sportsman of the Year, Junior Sportswoman of the Year, Sportsman of the year, Sportswoman of the year, Sportsman of the year with a disability and Sportswoman of the year with a disability. The others were Sports team of the year, Coach of the year, Sports Journalist of the year, Confederation of the year, Chairman’s Special award Region Five Programmes and Sportsperson of the year.
The Sportsperson of the year award went to South Africa’s track and field 200 and 400 metre sprinter, Wayde van Niekerk.
The AUSC Region Five is the sports arm of the African Union, whose main aim is to use sports to achieve peace, integration and unity in Africa. It aims to use sport as a vehicle of encouraging people to develop and come together, irrespective of colour, economic status, political, class, or gender.
The AUSC divided Africa into seven competition zones due to the vastness of the continent and for financial prudence. The main consideration was the countries’ geographical positions. It is from this that AUSC Region was born.