President Emmerson Mnangagwa says it is time for Zimbabwe to tap into the business potential of the sporting sector and plough investment into areas such as stadiums, golf courses, sport equipment and sportswear to generate business and foreign currency for the country.

President Mnangagwa said this today at the ground breaking ceremony of the National Sports Academy, which is going to be housed by the Bindura University of Science Education in the town.

While sport was just a hobby for many, in recent times it has become a form of employment, providing the much needed jobs for many.

Sport has also generated a lot of business opportunities through the manufacture of sportswear brands and equipment.

The launch of the sports academy is a land mark development that will benefit athletes and coaches in the growth of Zimbabwean sport.

The academy has been established jointly by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Recreation to identify nurture and develop sporting talent for major sporting events be it domestic, regional, international or global such as the Olympics.

First established in 2006, the academy has already been sending athletes to major world events like the Junior Olympics in south Columbia in 2015, and to Kenya, China and the United States.

The academy recruits from all parts of the country, including in remote areas.

Cde Mnangagwa explained how other countries have benefitted from sport as a business, raking in the much needed revenue and foreign currency.

“Statistics indicate that between 2005 and 2017, the global market generated US$91 billion with North America claiming a market share of US$14.2 billion within the sports merchandising market,” he said.

He assured the sector that the government stands ready to assist in any way possible to make dreams of the next generation of sportsmen and women come true.

He implored relevant associations and other players to intensify youth development programmes and to increase the frequency of competitions at all levels to ensure that talented athletes are identified and nurtured through mass competitions.

The President went on to highlight the country’s sporting achievements with special mention of sprinter Artwell Mandaza, boxers Langton ‘Schoolboy’ Tinago, Proud Kilimanjaro, Mosquito, Charles Manyuchi, tennis icons Byron and Wayne Black, and their sister Cara, motor cross rider Tanya Muzinda and the all time swimming legend Kirsty Coventry who was awarded an honorary doctorate in sports science as a role model for young people in sports.