The Sunday Mail
Deputy Sports Editor
THE National Federation of Zimbabwe Body-building and Fitness (NFZBF) are no strangers to adversity.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, body-building was the hardest hit, as it was among the last sporting codes to be allowed to resume since it was regarded a high-risk discipline.
One of the legacy challenges that still affect the sport in the post-Covid-19 era is sponsorship.
However, despite funding challenges, which heightened during the pandemic, the athletes have somehow soldiered on.
“I think we can safely say that the year 2023 has been very fruitful . . . we had our challenges here and there but also had a couple of success stories,” said NFZBF secretary-general Quiet Shangai.
“In terms of programming, it was a great year.
“From the administrative side of things, which mainly refers to things like compliance and issues to do with the SRC (Sports and Recreation Commission), I think it was also fruitful.
“We held a couple of great shows, with the Novice attracting roughly 65 athletes, which brought our cumulative number of athletes that attended our shows this year to over 100.
“This is a commendable increase.
“Add to that the introduction of district shows in places like Mbare, Mufakose, Marondera and Bulawayo, and we did good.” The federation are now preparing for their penultimate event of the year and the biggest show on their calendar — the Zimbabwe Nationals.
This event, which will be held in Harare this weekend, promises to be an even bigger and better show.
Former greats — Donald Maphosa, Dumiso Dlodlo, defending champion Mark Anthony Valisatos, Itayi Blessing Sithole and Aaron Musarurwa — are some of the big names already confirmed for the event.
“We expect very stiff competition at this year’s event, which is rich in experience, with former winners like Dlodlo, Maphosa and Musarurwa all confirmed,” said NFZBF technical director Givemore Marume.
“We also have a lot of up-and-coming athletes and some heavy hitters like Gideon Teguru and Noah Dzokora.”
This year’s Zimbabwe nationals, Marume added, will also see a first in that the judges’ panel will comprise seasoned adjudicators from Malawi and Zambia.
This is part of the federation’s exchange programme with governing bodies of the respective countries.
He did, however, stress the need for the corporate sector to come in and aid the sport’s gradual progression.
“Preparations have been going on well so far, as we have opted to take it one day at a time,” he said.
“We are excited that everyone . . . is playing their role and chipping in.
“There is still room for more, especially as it pertains to the issue of sponsorship.
“For an event to be a success, we definitely need assistance from the corporate world and we are still searching and knocking on doors.”
He also talked up the bid for a title sponsor for the national finals.
“Ideally, we would prefer if we could find a name sponsor for the event, as this is a very expensive sport.
“Organising an event like this needs plenty of resources for things like booking venues, prize money and many other requirements.
“The athletes also need money, as some travel as far as Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and further to attend, which requires transport, food and accommodation.
“The preparations themselves are very expensive, as athletes need solid and healthy meals (six times a day) with lots of protein.
“There is also the issue of gym memberships and proper training, and the prize money has to be worth the effort and resources one puts in,” Marume said.