By Duncan Mlanjira
President of Confederation of Athletics Association for Southern Africa, Moses Bantsi says 2019 is a crucial year for all ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Qatar in September which is also a springboard for many athletes to the Olympic Games next year in Japan.
Thus there is need for affiliate associations, Malawi inclusive, to be more innovative and be able to implement their programmed as well.
“That means our athletes in the region need a lot of action and preparation which will need our collective involvement as member countries to give athletes a fair opportunity to quality for those still needing to and to prepare for Qatar.
“Some members are already preparing for the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark in two months’ time and we urge them to put the interests of the athletes at the forefront.
“The region has great talent in Cross Country and we have great potential to grow immensely in this event as a region,” Bantsi said in a press statement.
Bantsi, who was re-elected in December last year, said he was optimistic that 2019 will be a good season for athletics in the region and and that he will spend the term of his fresh mandate with his new executive committee working to lift the region to new destinations of success and innovations.
He said the region needs to revisit the positioning of the Africa Athletics League (AAL) on the CAA SR calendar to see how best to assist athletes who badly need high level competition ahead of Qatar and Japan, but cannot afford to do so especially outside the region.
Bantsi said the concept of the AAL remains good, but may need to be remodelled in some areas to suit membership interests.
“On one hand it was good that our concept of a track and field series is currently being addressed by the AAL, but there is a need to re-look its dates, a process which we have already begun.”
According to the president, the activities of this year also inform the 2020 calendar where the region looks forward to participating in big numbers at the continent’s premier flagship of the 22nd CAA African Senior Championships in Algeria, before going to the Olympics.
“While the region talks of the elite competitions ahead, the youth and junior athletes are not left behind. This is an important age sector for the region as like in everything else, the future of Southern African athletics rests in the athletes.
“So, the CAA SR U18 Youth & U20 Junior Championships in May, 14th CAA U20 African Championships in Côte d’Ivoire in April and the CAA African Youth Championships in June, are very important to us all.”
He said members should also take advantage of usefull competitions in sister countries to assist athletes develop and prepare for elite competition against the world.
Bantsi pointed out that the AUSC Region 5 Youth Games have become an important inclusion in the region’s development strategy as it offers youngsters a break into international competition.
He congratulated Botswana who hosted the recent version of the multi-code Games last December in Gaborone and said the Botswana Athletics Association did a wonderfull job in uplifting the sport in Southern Africa.
“I also take the opportunity to thank the maturity in which members handled the transition of executive power during the elective congress in Johannesburg last month. While it is normal to differ in opinions, the congress concluded in one voice.
“We are on the drawing board already for a way forward on how to further develop areas of coaching, management and technical officiating this year and beyond.”