President's Voice ÔÇô Gideon Sam | TeamSA - TeamSA

President’s Voice ÔÇô Gideon Sam

Driving from the magnificent airport in Maputo to the stately Polana Hotel, I was saddened by the neglect of what once was the playground of the rich during the colonial days.

The buildings could certainly do with a few coats of paint and the ÔÇ£free for all tradingÔÇØ on the streets can be better managed.┬áThe part of the beachfront that I saw was so dirty that the driver was forced to comment that the people do not really care about the environment.

Juxtapose that with what we saw at the opening ceremony. Absolute exuberance from the youth that performed there! They were so vibrant and full of energy and one could not help thinking that the energy on display contradicts the upkeep of the areas where they come from. It once again shows that Africa does not know how to harness the resources available to it.

I hope to go back to Maputo in years to come because there is a lot of potential in the country.  The huge number of people on the streets would hopefully be gainfully engaged in looking after their beautiful country.

The main focus areas of the Games, the Athletes’ Village; the Aquatics Centre and the National Stadium are some of the best that I have seen in many years.┬áThe complex will go a long way in promoting sport in the country and sport administrators should really make things happen for sport in Mozambique.

The infrastructure is legacy at its best and hopefully other countries will learn that hosting the Games comes with challenges, but what legacy is left behind is all very important. Southern Africa will benefit a lot from the infrastructure that Mozambique has got now.

We should now see the mushrooming of clubs in Maputo to use the available facilities optimally.┬á Football will benefit tremendously from the huge stadium, but so should athletics too and all the aquatics disciplines. A visit to Maputo in five years’ time should be rather interesting to see what happened to the facilities.

Some of us have doubts about the value of the Games especially when we fail to attract the big names. But when you see the enthusiasm on the field of play then we as administrators must sit up and take note. It is not the fault of the athletes when they arrive for the Games and the Confederations on the continent have not done their homework.

It is also not the fault of the governments when the playing schedules have not been drawn up in time, leading to unnecessary delays for the athletes. Only when the basic issues have been taken care of will we see the big names returning to our Games.

Hopefully the next edition of the Games in Congo Brazzaville will be the turning point of the All Africa Games.┬áThe Asians and the South Americans and the Europeans can do it, so why can’t we?

I am full of praise for the way our management and athletes faced the challenges that confronted them in Maputo. We back home do not always appreciate what our athletes must go through to represent our country.

The triathletes kicked off the Games and bagged four medals in less than five hours. The swimmers signalled their strong resolve to pick up as many medals as is possible when on the first night they picked up five gold medals. The football teams also started well and we are confident that at the end of the Games, we will be there to take the honours!

I’m now joining the athletes at the Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of Man and this class of 2011 will form the backbone of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and then the┬á 2020 Summer Olympics.