Seven-time Olympic medalist and now Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry is unfazed by the prospects of being in a sporting jungle dominated by big and egocentric personalities.
Coventry who is one of the five non-elected cabinet ministers who form part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet which has been taunted as “rational” said she is ready to transform the arts, sports and creation.
Speaking to 263Chat at State House on the side-lines of the swearing ceremony, Coventry said she is ready to transform the arts, sport and recreation of the country but she will need time to get the grasp of the terrain she is about to walk.
She relishes the challenge of working in the male dominated ministry.
263Chat’s Lovejoy Mutongwiza (LM) spoke to Kirsty Coventry (KC) and below are excerpts of the interview.
LM: You are coming in at a time when there is the new dispensation and there is a lot of expectation from the country, what are the first things you are going to do to ensure that you take sports and arts back to its former glory
KC: This is a big portfolio and I’m excited about the links that the youth, sports , arts and recreation can make…For the next few weeks, it will be trying to get a better understanding of who is working in my ministry and we prioritize where we want to start. We want to prioritize our national goals and focus on getting back to our glory days.
LM: As a sports person, where do you think our sports need to improve?
KC: That could be a long answer there (chuckles). But we a really good sporting base and now the task is to figuring out we can get it supported. We also need to look at which sport we can focus on as a country. If you look at your top countries, in Jamaica, they are known as sprinters. They focus on the 100 and 200 meters and not the 400 ones. So I think we have to do a research into what we want to focus on and what we are most talented for and we use that as a starting point.
LM: There is talk that you are coming into a male dominated environment. You look at football, cricket, they are all managed by males, how are you going to deal and manage that?
KC: I think that is a challenge that I believe the president believes I can deal with and I’m excited to take that up. However, I would want to see the promotion of equality for women in sports. Sport is male dominated but I love those challenges and I hope that we can work together and complement each other.
LM: We look at the arts; there is an issue of piracy and then lack of funding. What changes are you likely to advocate for and how do you plan on doing that?
KC: I love art, my brother-in-law is an artist and I know it’s very hard especially if you are passionate. Income is always up and down. So what I’m going to do when I come in is to bring in advisors who can look into the challenges faced in the industry and figure out from there how we can take away those challenges.
LM: And that includes Zimdancehall? (Chuckles)
KC: (Laughs) yes that includes that too, it includes everyone and all forms of artistry. We have so many talented people, artists and sportsmen and I hope we can, one, be so proud to show off our talent.
LM: You mentioned something about youths, what’s in store in as far as youth empowerment is concerned?
KC: You know that is a big portfolio and I expect to see a little bit more (of changes) and I have already talked to other ministers who have, at some point, been involved in youth throughput their career.
So I’m looking forward to catching up with them and hear their guidance. So again, all these work together so youths can be empowered sports and arts. Its really about creating the right platforms for them so that we work together.
LM: Ok! Thank you Honourable Minister and best of luck in your tenure
KC: Thank You so much!