By Richmore Tera.

Harare, Zimbabwe. (News of The South) – THERE is a worrying trend of students in colleges falling prey to activities that help fuel the spread of HIV and Aids, unwanted pregnancies and drug and alcohol abuse. Chief among them are binge parties where rampant and errant behaviour are the order of the day.

It is with this in mind that the organisers of the College Games Athletics League have decided to rope in stakeholders from various organisations who will exhibit and offer services health and counselling services during this year’s edition of the sporting event to be held at Nyatsime College in Chitungwiza this Friday (March 17).

“An estimated 5 000 plus students shall be reached on the programme that aims to educate youths on issues affecting their lives and community through sport. The youth education through sport intervention that aims to impart life skills to youths is only viable in an environment where sport attracts young people to gather and participate in competition sessions.

“Since the programme prioritises sport development and youth education through sport with special emphasis on drug and HIV/ Aids awareness, there is need for deliberate pooling of resources by stakeholders,” said Bryan Kandemiri, a member of the Children and Youth Sports Academy (CHIYSA) who are the organisers of the event.

Some of the services that will be on offer on the sidelines of the track and field event include voluntary male circumcision (VMC), HIV/Aids testing and drug awareness campaign with a special focus on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

“Each college shall provide a team of 180 athletes to compete in their respective disciplines. The athletics league has four different age groups – the Under 16, Under 18, Under 21 as well as the Open group for both boys and girls,” Kandemiri said.

With this big number of students taking part, augmented by the supporters who are expected to grace the event, Kandemiri was upbeat that their objectives of reaching out to youths and people of all ages in general, will be fulfilled.

“Young people are affected with the virus every day. They need a protective environment – regular schooling, access to health and support services – if they are to play a vital role in combating the epidemic.

“Sport can be used to help stop the spread of HIV/Aids. Sporting activities do reach out to all populations especially young people. Sport also strengthens local communities through their inclusiveness and fellowship. Sport is a meeting point where life-skills can be discussed openly,” he said.

Winners will proceed to the provincial competition to be held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on March 31.

It is hoped that the College Games will produce national gems like Abel Chimukoko and Tendai Chimusasa who will lift the country’s flag high at international sporting competitions.

Chimusasa – a long-distance runner – did the nation proud when he carried the Zimbabwean flag at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States.

Likewise, fellow long-distance runner Chimukoko also wrote his own piece of history when he finished 48th in the men’s marathon race of the Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece in 2004.




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