BY GRACE CHAILE –
ZAMTEL yesterday launched its two-year Swimming Challenge League worth K1.8 million at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
Company managing director Mupanga Mwanakatwe said the aim of the Zamtel Swim Challenge is to help in the development of the sport in the country by targeting under-privileged kids from the communities.
Under the two-year Zamtel Learn to Swim Challenge deal, the telecommunications company would maintain the 90 Days Legacy Swimming Pool and pay all electricity and water bills as well as paying allowances for the coaches to be attached to the clubs.
Mwanakatwe said Zamtel remained committed towards contributing to the development of sports disciplines that have been regarded as minority Cinderella sports like swimming.
“Government has planted the OYDC seed and we are privileged to be among the sponsors who are watering the great seed. We believe it is possible for Zambia to produce future Olympic gold medalists and to begin to harvest silverware in regional and international competitions in the near future,” Mwanakatwe said.
He said the integral part of support to OYDC is the Zamtel Learn to Swim Programme which targets more than 1500 children each week from low income communities.
Mwanakatwe added that the programme is aimed at teaching children how to swim in a safe environment and in a structured manner.
“Our corporate desire is to contribute towards efforts aimed at deterring youths from engaging in vices that are detrimental to their future development by keeping them pre-occupied in healthy and competitive swimming activities,” he said.
Meanwhile, OYDC director Clement Chileshe said 3000 children will take part in the Zamtel Swim Challenge competition from which the talented swimmers will be integrated into 20 clubs to turn them into champions.
Chileshe said OYDC has adopted David Kaunda, Northmead and Kabulonga Secondary Schools Swimming Pools and will be sending coaches to train the kids.
He also said that coaches will in the coming months be sent to different districts to identify children that have the talent of swimming so that they could be brought to the OYDC every second month to be nurtured.
Zambia Amateur Swimming Union (ZASU) president David Thompson commended Zamtel for giving children in schools and those in the communities a platform to nurture their swimming talent.
“As ZASU, this has been our dream to allow more children develop the talent of swimming. With this innovative programme, we are confident that soon we will reap more medals at international events and have those to carry over from the champions,” he said.