The 2017 restructured National Youth Games which began at ward level, will soon be entering district level before competitions explode at provincial and finally the national levels.

The Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) said the new format will certainly usher in the cream de la cream for the national event.

The games that will see 22 sporting disciplines being contested in from the usual eight will get underway in Matabeleland North Province from the 17th to the 27th of August.

They have also shifted from focusing only on the U-20 age group to also cover the U-23s from the uniformed services, tertiary institutions, and the community sport clubs.

SRC Corporate Communications Manager, Tirivashe Nheweyembwa said competition will in the next week be at district level before being staged at provincial level to then pave way for the national event.

While focus is on giving more eligible athletes a platform to perform, a $30 participation fee per athlete may hinder efforts to have deserving athletes as some provinces may not afford it.

Due to the big numbers expected at the national event and the diverse sports codes, competition will be spread to centres like Hwange, Victoria Falls, Lupane and Bulawayo for swimming.

The Ministry of Sport and Recreation indicated that it hoped the new format would ensure that all the country’s talent is captured, thus creating a huge base from which to select talented athletes for higher level of training and exposure.