The Sunday Mail
FOR several years since her early days as a versatile athlete, Eugenia Chidhakwa has been recording a number of achievements in the sporting field.
But on Friday, the director of Sport and Recreation in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation broke new ground.
On the same day that her Minister Kirsty Coventry was being inducted into the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5’s Hall of Fame, Chidhakwa was appointed chairperson of the technical and Development Commission for the region.
Coventry said her induction into the Hall of Fame was done alongside Mozambique’s Maputo Express Maria Mutola, Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile (posthumously) (South Africa), Matilda Mwaba (Zambia), Robert Magagula (Eswatini), Joel Lubombo (Mozambique) and Boyce Sebetela (Botswana).
Coventry’s induction and Chidhakwa’s appointment were done during an extraordinary virtual meeting of the African Union Sport Council Region 5 Ministers.
During their extraordinary meeting, the ministers ratified the confederations assistance programme guidelines. These guidelines provide a framework from which the region and member countries can support the functioning of Region 5 recognised regional sports confederations.
This is in line with the decision of the Council of Ministers made in November 2013 that regional sports confederations would be supported in order to function, including in the areas of provision of office space, development of strategic plans, event hosting and marketing management capacity building.
However, for Coventry, it was the double by Zimbabwe, which charmed her and she described both her induction and Chidhakwa’s appointment as a huge honour.
“Yes the induction into the Hall of Fame is a huge honour and it is always very special to be recognised for my career. I owe so many people for my long career, my family, my coaches, friends and nation for always supporting me throughout my career.
“I was lucky to have a long career as an athlete and it due to so many people through my journey,’’ Coventry.
As for Chidhakwa, she replaces Angola’s Antonio Gomes and becomes the first woman to hold the powerful position.
Her appointment was confirmed during a virtual extraordinary meeting of the African Union Sport Council Region 5 Ministers which Coventry also attended.
But it is Chidhakwa’s appointment that left her minister proud of both Zimbabwe’s and her achievement.
Chidhakwa, better known within the ministry and the sporting circles as the “Iron Fist Lady of Sport’’, has previously scored a number of firsts and Coventry lauded her for dedication to duty and passion for the growth of sport in the country.
Coventry said Chidhakwa’s appointment underlined both her quality and the impact she was making on Zimbabwean and regional sport.
“It (the appointment) just shows her quality of work. She is very passionate about driving sport and she has been doing an excellent job in the Ministry and I think it is a very nice way that she is being recognised that way for the work she is doing locally.
“And now she is going to have a greater impact driving sport technically throughout the region and I am very proud of her achievement,’’ Coventry said.
Chidhakwa has been around the sporting arena from her days at Chaplin High School in Gweru, when she was still known by her maiden name Kunonga in the years that she played basketball, netball and hockey.
But as she matured with age and became a family woman and a mother of three, so did more accolades and more wisdom come along.
In her long career as an administrator, she attained two Masters degrees in Sports management that followed a Bachelor of Science Physical Education and Sport degree.
Yet she had always shown signs of scaling greater heights when she became the first woman president of the Zimbabwe Tertiary Sports Union (ZITSU). Her impressive resume also includes being former the president of the Women and Sport Foundation (2006-2016), former SRC Board member, chairing the Sport Development and Technical committee and being an ex-Zimbabwe Olympic Committee Board Member.
She is a former Zimbabwe Olympic Academy Director, the first Woman Chef de Mission African Games (Morocco 2019) and first Woman to be given the 10 Year Recognition Award by AUSC Region 5.
Chidhakwa’s appointment puts Zimbabwean sport under more spotlight and the country cannot afford to suffer more embarrassments such as the recent disqualification of the national Under-17 soccer team from the COSAFA Youth Championship for age-cheating.