By Tafadzwa Goronga
While one of the most prestigious sporting events on the Zimbabwe’s sporting calendar –The Chamber of Mines Games – have remained stuck in the doldrums for more than a decade, veteran athletics coach Njere Shumba is not giving up hope of their return.
Dubbed the “Mini Zimbabwe Olympics”, the Chamber of Mines Games were put on ice after their 48th edition held at Zimasco’s Peak Mine in Shurugwi in July 2007.
What were meant to be the 49th edition of the Games never took place at Trojan Stadium in Bindura in 2008 and since then athletes from the mining clubs have been yearning for the Games’ return to the radar.
At their peak, the Games, under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines, used to attract nearly 4 000 athletes and officials, mainly drawn from mining clubs like Hwange, Trojan, Jumbo Mine, Arcturus Mine, Zimasco Shurugwi, Zimasco Zvishavane, Shabanie Mine, Gaths, Blanket Mine, Mimosa, Zimplats, Red Wing Penhalonga, Ziscosteel and Ashanti.
Shumba believes that a lot of talent has been lost along the years because some athletes failed to get such a platform to showcase their prowess.
“A lot of mines have schools, where the up-and –coming athletes would see competing at the Chamber of Mines Games as stepping stone to greatness.
‘It was a big platform to represent your school or mine at the Chamber of Mines Games but all that has not been happening since the Games were scrapped off the calendar.
“The Chamber of Mine Games used to bring great sporting rivalries among the mining club and national team coaches also used the Games to scout for raw talent,” said Shumba.
While track athletes like Elliot Mujaji, Kudakwashe Shoko, Jeffrey Masvanhise, Jefrey Wilson and Wirimai Juwawo of Shabanie and the likes of Temba Ncube of Hwange hogged the limelight at the Chamber of Mines Games, other disciplines also left their mark.
“I think pole vault and cycling have suffered greatly because it was only the Chamber of Mines Games which had serious competitions in these events,” said Shumba.
Besides unlocking talent, Shumba said the Chamber of Mines Games’ continued freeze has seen some of the facilities being run-down.
“A lot of mines used to take care of their grounds and sporting facilities but now most of the stadiums have been neglected and even the communities are not using the sporting facilities which are in such poor state.
“Besides the facilities, there were a lot of businesses, if we talk about kits, provision of accommodation, food and employment of officials for the around the Games and even transportation,” said Shumba.
Shumba, who is an athletics coach at Ziscosteel, however, remains hopeful that the Chamber of Mine Games will return to the radar.
“I hope the executive will consider their decision and find ways of reviving the Games,” he said.
The Sports and Recreation Commission is also bemoaning the dearth of the Games but has challenged mining sports club to have a proactive approach to sports as a business.
“The Games were stopped because of the economic challenges around the mining sector and the country but the clubs should be proactive and establish Strategic Business Units which generate income, instead of waiting for sponsorship from parent mines.
“Athletics have been the biggest loser but the mine games used to unearth talent in netball, even football and other disciplines,” said SRC corporate communications executive Tirivashe Nheweyembwa.