By Staff Reporter
Marondera-The excitement was palpable as eight (8) Agricultural colleges from across the country battled it out at the Agriculture Sports Gala, hosted by Kushinga Phikelela National Farming Training Centre last week.
After a long hiatus due to Covid-19, the return of the Sports Gala was a much-awaited event for students and stakeholders alike. The return of the tournament gave SAYWHAT and stakeholders a double celebration as the former commemorates the 20th anniversary.
The five-day-long gala started on Monday the 13th of March and ended on Friday the 17th, with the Gwebi Agricultural College emerging as the overall winner, sweeping up the most accolades in boys’ and girls’ soccer, volleyball, netball, athletics, high jump, long jump, and other disciplines.
Other colleges such as Mazowe, Rio Tinto, Esigodini, Shamva, Chibero form the participants list.
The students were thrilled to participate in the event and showcase their skills in various sports.
Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony, the guest of honor, Chief Director of Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services, Professor Obert Jiri, praised SAYWHAT, the long-standing partner of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, for its efforts in partnering in organizing the event and prioritizing the health of students.
Professor Jiri further lauded the youth who engage in sports as a pastime, shunning drug abuse.
Professor Jiri called on the organizers to expand the number of sports disciplines and declared the Agriculture Sports Gala an annual event.
“Let’s be innovative and entrepreneurial in building the success story of the sports gala at the ministry level,” he said. He also commended the Department of Agricultural Education for pioneering the program and applauded the teamwork shown by various stakeholders to make the event possible.
Mrs Dorcas Chikorova, SAYWHAT Programs Coordinator, addressed stakeholders and extended gratitude to the hosting college, Kushinga Phikelela as an “umbilical cord” for SAYWHAT.
“This year we are commemorating our 20th anniversary and coincidentally, we are celebrating our work at one of the historic places in Zimbabwe.
“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support that SAYWHAT has received from Kushinga Pikelela National Farming Training Centre throughout our history.
“Your commitment to promoting youth development and empowering young people to take charge of their lives is truly inspiring, and we are grateful for your continued partnership.”
Mrs Chikorova commended the students for taking part in sporting activities and shunning drug abuse, which is a scourge shackling the future of most youth.
The students who participated in the event expressed their gratitude for being part of the games and praised the organizers for exposing them to a productive experience that benefitted them physically and psychologically. They also commended SAYWHAT for its activities that encourage youth to watch their health, including sexual and reproductive as well as mental health.
One student, Tinofara Mutero said, “Sports help us shun dangerous activities and engage in friendly competition while socializing with others from different institutions. It helps us avoid drug abuse, which is very bad for the youth.”
Primrose Hwema weighed in saying the sports gala was a missed tournament as the event is a key platform for students to share reproductive health experiences and education.
“These are the spaces where we feel comfortable to discuss about our health particularly reproductive health. It is not a formal environment and we go with fun spirit associated with sports.
“The school environment is not really restrictive but is not a conducive as this sports environment for us students to talk about our sexual life and choices.”
The Agriculture Sports Gala tournament was last held in 2018 before Covid-19 made it difficult for the event to be organized in person.
SAYWHAT’s long standing ties with agricultural colleges in Zimbabwe dates back to 2003 and the same colleges were the first to open doors for the former to start operations which have since blossomed beyond Zimbabwean borders at 20.
SAYWHAT remains grateful to all agricultural colleges in Zimbabwe for the support since birth and reaffirm its commitment to serve students and young people to live healthy lives across the African continent.