Fungayi Munyoro Sports Correspondent

TEAM Manicaland trooped into camp today (Friday) at Mutare Boys High and Mutare Girls High Schools as they begin their preparations for the 2018 National Youth and Paralympics Games to be held in Gweru.

The games will be co-hosted for the first time by Midlands Province in Gweru from August 15-20 for the first block and August 22-28 for the second   block. The Under-13 and 18 are under the first block with a total of 464 athletes while the Under-23 is in the second block with 438 athletes.

The games will be running under the theme-“Inclusion and integration in sport, the way to go for Zimbabwean Sports and Recreation”.

The Zimbabwe National Youth and Paralympics Games process starts with club and community based activities leading to the holding of district and provincial games as platforms for widespread mobilization and selection of talented participants.

Last year Manicaland came out fifth in Hwange.

Provincial Coordinator, Sports and Recreation Commission Shupikai Berejena also said they were expecting all athletes to be in camp by end of day today (Friday) to ensure they cover a lot of ground before leaving for Gweru.

“We will have to cover a lot of ground in those days and ensure we are ready for the games. We are appealing to well wishers to assist us as our budget is $47 000.

Meanwhile, Berejena has asked the province and the cooperate world to put full attention on the games and support team Manicaland.

“We want to improve and come out a better team than last year. I believe we have a better team than last year since we managed to select our teams from all the seven districts of the province,” said Berejena.

The games will be spread to various venues which include Gweru Polytechnic, Mkoba Stadium and Mkoba Teachers College.

The Under-13 category will take part in four sporting disciplines-athletics, football, netball and tennis.

Under-18 will take part in athletics, basketball, boxing, chess, cricket, netball, football, rugby 7s, handball, volleyball and tennis.

While Under- 18 Paralympics teams will take part in wheelchair tennis, netball amongst others.

Under-23 will take part in twelve sports codes.

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) incepted Zimbabwe National Youth Games (ZNYGs) in 2003 as a platform to facilitate selection and exposure of talented young sports participants below the age of 20.

The ZNYGs facilitate selection of athletes towards participation in African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games, African Games, Olympic and Paralympics Games and other international sport specific championships.

The games are also organised annually and hosted on a rotational basis by provinces.

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) later incepted the Zimbabwe National Paralympics Games (ZNPGs) in 2008 as a strategy to stimulate and facilitate increased participation of persons with disabilities in sport and recreation.