(eTN) – The young legacy of the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, continues to build as it presented the Zone Six Under-20 Games this month for Zambia’s youth, as well as 2,000 athletes from 12 countries. The Centre hosted swimming, judo, and track and field events at the facility that opened just 2 years ago in 2010.
The biennial regional youth games began in 2004 in Mozambique, followed by Namibia in 2006, South Africa in 2008, Swaziland in 2010, and this year in Zambia. The games were established by the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA).
This year’s event drew excited crowds, who witnessed South Africa take all 32 gold medals at the pool, finishing with 57 swimming medals in all. Namibia took 22 medals, and Zimbabwe won 10. On the judo mats, South Africa again dominated by winning 9 gold, 6 silver, and 2 bronze medals. But the local Zambian supporters were most thrilled with 5 local judoka who all won gold. These fine young athletes were first exposed to judo only 2 years ago.
This facility is the first in a series being built by the International Olympic Committee’s Sport for Hope program. The aim of the program is to construct state-of-the-art sports centers in developing countries as a way to provide the community youth with a place to practice sports as well as to learn about the values of being an athlete with Olympic values, such as fair play and mutual respect.
All those who have participated in events at the Lusaka Center, whether they be competitors, spectators, or organizers, have been quite impressed with the facilities, which offers an Olympic-size swimming pool; synthetic football and hockey pitches; tennis courts; and a boxing ring; as well as multi-purpose areas for basketball, handball, weightlifting, volleyball, and gymnastics. In addition to the facilities, education programs are on offer, along with health services and community activities.
Since its opening in 2010, thousands of athletes from Zambia and neighboring countries have utilized the facilities, and parents continually come to register their children for the center’s programs. Building on the success of Zambia’s Olympic Youth Development Centre, a second center is currently under construction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.