Mat North eye better medal haul at Youth Games

Sikhumbuzo Moyo Senior Sports Reporter
PERENNIAL Zimbabwe National Youth Games strugglers Matabeleland North are hopeful of a better showing at this year’s edition being held in Bulawayo which starts on Saturday and ends on 25 August.Matabeleland North has been one of the punch bags in the Games that were introduced in 2003 with their best showing so far being at the Masvingo edition of the competition.

Last year they were 10th with just a single gold medal and three silver medals with traditional powerhouses Harare and Bulawayo coming first and second respectively.

“We just have to better our medal haul this time around and so far we have taken every step to ensure that we achieve our goal. Realistically position one might be impossible because we are competing with well resourced provinces but all we want is to better our medal haul,” said the Sport and Recreation Commission’s provincial sports co-ordinator Newman Masuku at the province’s base at Townsend High School yesterday.

He said the province brought a contingent of 153 athletes to camp and revealed that they will for the first time field competitors in all the eight sporting disciplines.
“Our province will be participating in tennis for the first time and we are really excited about that. There is a teacher from George Silundika High School who played the sport and is assisting us with coaching the team,” said Masuku.

Assistant general manager technical Mathias Mahlangu expressed satisfaction with camping conditions and said the onus was now on the team to do well.
“Matabeleland North has been struggling for a while now but this time around we definitely want to move away from position 10. Our strength is in athletics and boxing but we have worked hard on other disciplines as well,” said Mahlangu.

The boxing team, under Mphilisi Moyo, is camped in Hwange and will join the rest of the team just before the start of the Games.
In athletics, the province will rely on Nemane High School pupil Daniel Ncube and Daniel Shumba from Tshabanda Secondary School, who are 800m and 1 500m specialists respectively.

Another medal hope will be girls’ soccer where the province’s line-up is made up of players from the Hwange Ladies team that competes in the Southern Region Women’s Soccer League.

The draw for the ball games has already been conducted with Pool A in boys soccer set to be the group of death as it pits past winners.
Traditional giants, Harare, Midlands and hosts Bulawayo have been paired together as well as Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South Provinces while in Pool B, Mashonaland West will fight it out with Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central.

Bulawayo and Harare are set to continue with their rivalry once more with the winner of the group likely to go all the way to the winners’ podium.
Five institutions of higher learning in the city will be used for accommodation as well as three secondary schools.

The five institutions are United College of Education, Bulawayo Polytechnic College, School of Hospitality, Hillside Teachers’ College and the National University of Science and Technology while the three high schools are Northlea and Milton High as well as Girls College.

Nust will also play host to the track and field events while Bulawayo Courts for the Disabled (BCD) and Girls College will play host to boys and girls’ basketball. Boxing, which in the history of the Games has had one of the biggest crowds, will be held at Sizinda and Stanley Halls.

Emakhandeni Hall and Girls College will play host to tennis competitions while volleyball will be held at Milton High School.
Girls soccer will be at Barbourfields Stadium (outside grounds) while boys will fight it out at White City Stadium.

Games Villages: Nust, Hillside Teachers’ College, UCE, Bulawayo Poly and School of Hospitality
Competition Venues:
Athletics: Nust
Basketball: BCD and Girls College
Boxing: Sizinda and Stanley Halls
Handball: Luveve and Northlea High schools
Tennis: Emakhandeni Hall and Girls College
Volleyball: Milton High School
Girls Soccer: Barbourfields grounds
Boys’ Soccer: White City Stadium
Netball: White City Courts

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