AT LEAST four junior athletes will be guaranteed scholarships to study in the United States at the upcoming Zimbabwe track and field championships set for the National Sports Stadium this month.
The event will be hosted on April 30 by the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) in partnership with former Zimbabwean athlete Costa Takawira through his company Baldmin Holdings.
The initiative will see junior athletes from across the country battle for a place to study abroad while furthering their athletics careers.
Addressing journalists at the launch of the partnership in the capital yesterday Baldmin Holdings managing director Takawira said they were driven by the need to promote young talent and producing competitive athletes that can compete at an international level.
“The main reason why I ended up offering to help and sponsor our athletes is that I’m a former athlete myself.
“I was one of the athletes to benefit from the United States scholarships.
“So for me, it’s a passion and I believe in giving back to the community. During our days they were a lot of sponsors and competitions in the country but now I think it’s going down.
“So I took it by myself that we need to help and bring back the opportunity that we benefited from during our times for our athletes to be able to compete at an international level.
“Hence that’s why we started to look at the juniors who I believe do not have enough financial assistance and exposure. We are looking at the athletes from disadvantaged communities such as rural areas.
“Through our scholarships programme, we allow them to study in the United States of America where I think they will gain more exposure and experience through proper and standard training,” said Takawira.
Takawira also said there is a huge demand for long-distance runners abroad and called for local athletes to embrace the opportunity.
“So far we have sent eight athletes who are already studying and competing in the United States.
“This year we have 10 scholarships for the August semester and we are saying at least four athletes especially the long-distance runners in the upcoming event will be guaranteed a full scholarship to go and study while furthering their career in the United States.
“ It is vital to note that most coaches in the United States of America are now more interested in long-distance runners because they always have short-distance runners.
“So for the upcoming tournament, we will be looking for at least four more athletes who we can identify and provide with an opportunity to go abroad and further their career,” added Takawira.
Naaz president Tendai Tagara welcomed the initiative.
“We are happy as an association to have a key sponsor for our junior athletes. We have been starving track athletes in terms of participation with a backing,” he said.
“We are happy that those athletes who are going to be outstanding are guaranteed scholarships to go to the United States which is a dream for every athlete.
“We are happy that Baldmin Holdings has partnered with us, especially during these hard times when athletes need financial assistance to develop their talent and career.
“We are happy that for the first time the event has a sponsor in Baldmin Holdings. We are expecting a lot of juniors from all the provinces to come and participate because the event is also a platform for us to select a team that will represent the country at the world Athletics Junior Championships.
“So it will be a key event and a breakthrough for our athletes and we call upon all junior athletes from around the country to come in their numbers and grab the opportunity that I believe will transform the lives of our junior athletes.”
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee secretary-general Stephen Mudawarima said the partnership will go a long way in complementing the government’s vision for the development of sports in the country.
“It is much appreciated having organisations like Baldmin Holdings come in and support national initiatives. We are looking at the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Dakah and we also looking at the long-term to LA 2028.”
by Cloud Fusire