Goals and wickets 

Goals and wickets

Going to meet some friends across town, I arrived a bit early. So I decided to stop off for a bit at the neighbourhood sports club to pass some time, thinking maybe I’d find a deserted patch of grass in which to do some reading.

But the joint was jumping!

Harare’s hospitals may be out of medication, the shelves in its shops bare, its streets potholed and its water verging on undrinkable, but its sports clubs are thriving.

Two different groups were busy on the cricket pitch, practicing their bowling, batting and fielding. A team of girls and two groups of boys were on the soccer fields, running laps, doing drills, playing practise games in shirts and bibs. In addition to the almost exclusively black youths on the fields, a small group of pensioners—all white—was gathering in the bowls club. Middle aged executives were walking in, kit bags and squash racquets over their shoulders.

At five in the afternoon, the grounds staff was still at it, moving stands, fetching water, shifting equipment. And the waiters in the club bar were just warming up.

I sat there, taking it all in, with no small amount of amazement. There was such an incredible buzz, a combination of fun and a sense of purposefulness, the youth of Harare getting fit, learning skills, building strength.

Earlier that day, a colleague and I had watched a group of primary school children walking home, and we’d asked ourselves, sadly, what future for these children? The sports club reminded me of the discussions I’ve been having around [link=http://hifa.venekera.com/]HIFA[/link], the Harare International Festival of the Arts, which is making its annual appearance in April. Many of the people I’ve spoken with are looking forward to it. A bit of excitement, culture, entertainment, to keep them going and brighten a dreary time. But a small number of us are contemplating a boycott. Similar to the sports boycotts of South Africa during apartheid. Surely, we argue, Zimbabwe should not get away with appearing a “normal” country. And the appearance of international musicians, actors, dance troupes, etc, contribute in their own way to the legitimisation of the country’s illegitimate regime.

But seeing the sports club made me question my own rigidity. In a country with an uncertain future, collapsing economy and pervasive sense of despair, are things like sports clubs, or HIFA, essential avenues to boost morale, release tension and build a sort of hope and confidence? Or are they pretences at normalcy, perpetuating the apathy by preserving a certain order, or belief that everything is alright. Would taking away these outlets, or denying them support, hasten the change of government that Zimbabwe needs? Or are they crucial in maintaining strength for the tedious years of struggle yet to come?

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Comment when you say it like that it makes a lot of sense

Wed Apr 5, 2006 2:18 pm MST by bob stevens

Comment when you say it like that it makes a lot of sense

Wed Apr 5, 2006 1:53 pm MST by bob stevens

Comment I know I'm off topic but today is the best day as she has said

Mon Apr 3, 2006 3:45 pm MST by tim smith

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