ZNBWCB aims to spread combat sport

Shelly Guni

The Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZNBWCB) is on a mission to discover raw talent and develop the sport in all corners of the country.

ZNBWCB programs manager Kupakwashe Mukurumbira said their focus remains to create new opportunities for upcoming athletes in combat sports while also providing the communities with top activities.

Combat Sports are fighting sports that usually involve one on one combat. The ZNBWCB oversees three combat sports: boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts.

“We have been on an intensive drive to increase awareness, establish our presence and engage various provincial stakeholders within the provinces.

“The response has been positive from provincial stakeholders who we have engaged to date. We are in the process of finalizing partnerships for development of combat sport facilities with several councils.

“We believe this will set an important foundation as we continue to develop combat sports from grassroots to elite level,” Mukurumbira said.

And in a move to engage everyone in the country, the board has established provincial offices, something which many sport codes have failed to do.

Mukurumbira said the development was a way to decentralize boxing to all provinces, which he said was a key part of their strategy.

“The goal is to increase participation in all provinces and ensure we include everyone. As stated in the national development strategy, we are expected to leave no one behind.

“The thrust is also to increase opportunities for talent identification and development in every province in the country.”

Matebeleland South Provincial Coordinator Maculwamahle Nkomo also shared the same sentiments with Mukurumbira.

The province has also been doing remarkably well in trying to promote the sport.

Nkomo said they have managed to run a number of programs ranging from Combat Sport awareness, Combat Sport Education, Combat Sport Club, Combat Sport Capacity Development Programs, Combat Sport Event and Combat Sport for Development

“The response from stakeholders in Matabeleland Province has been good, many people love the sport and it’s not only the young but the elderly, its females and males, its people from different cultures and walks of life.

“We have had intensive awareness campaigns of the combat sport in communities so that people understand that combat sports are similar to common sports like Soccer, tennis etc.

“Our combat sport awareness initiatives target bringing the public opportunities to see demonstrations of combat sport in schools, during exhibitions and special government events,” she said.

She said they were providing information on the value of boxing and sharing the commercial and professional side of boxing, particularly how amateurs could become professionals and earn a living through the combat sport as a professional boxer, wrestlers, MMA fighters, managers, promoters, coaches, referees etc.

“A key aspect we have been working on is creating clubs in the district and the province as a whole.

“The idea is for us to have registered clubs/academies which will become hubs of talent identification and development and also provide opportunities for our communities to participate in boxing for fitness and recreational purposes.

She said capacity development training for boxers, managers, coaches, promoters and technical officials was on the cards to help build skills in the provinces and improve the quality of boxing so that it reached international standards.

“We are anticipating that in the third and fourth quarter we will host events within three districts that will bring together boxers, technical officials, partners and sponsors. We have already started the ground work and we are getting the relevant support.

“We are also partnering with different organizations using combat sports as a tool to fight different social challenges that include drug and substance abuse, early marriages, teenage pregnancies.

“We want to show our youths that no matter their backgrounds there is potential for them to change their lives through combat sport.”

Nkomo however, shared some of the challenges they were facing while trying to achieve their goals.

“The challenge so far is that we don’t have so much support from the private sector.

“We have clubs that have potential to grow that lack resources and equipment; these are in both urban and rural areas of the province. If they could partner with us I believe we can change the face of combat sports and totally transform our youths’ livelihood through the sport.

“Secondly, the issue of negative perception. People think the sport is violent and only makes people rowdy. Yet this sport builds confidence in oneself, and self-actualization and because of that you find that the athletes are not violent people in their various walks of life but are vibrant and able to speak out with confidence,” she said.

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