Sports Trends – Congratulations to Starker for finishing the 3,000kms to SA
BY Duncan Mlanjira
10:02:08 – 03 July 2007
All for the noble cause of raising awareness of the plight of street kids in Malawi as well as globally, South African Felix Starker wound up his missionary work in Malawi by undertaking the 3,000kms bike ride to his homeland.
Starker, not a regular cycling athlete, used sports to tell the world that we need to realise that there is potential in these children by inspiring them to go back to school.
And I am saying that we should use Starker’s awareness by also roping in these little wanderers by training them into various sporting disciplines.
I am very sure that there is a gold-winning athlete in these little street kids, reduced to begging because of various family problems.
Our correspondent Patrick Achitabwino ably analysed Monday in his piece on the sport pages that sport can be an effective tool in the fight against HIV/Aids because the youths will be too engrossed in perfecting their talent that they would not indulge in immoral behaviour.
The street children roam about begging but if they can be positively put together in an sports academy they can never think of going back to the street should they get the chance of participating at local and international level where they would strive to get the medal and earn something.
Sport is self-paying and the little girls that wander through the streets can never be tempted to sleep with the selfish and immoral men, who entice them with little cash as low as K50.
Most of the young girls found in pubs and streets as prostitutes started as little beggars and once they started realising they could make a quick buck by accepting to sleep with fellow wanderers, they resorted to prostitution.
Like Starker has done by using cycling sport to raise the plight of the street kids, let’s use the same platform as well to integrate these victims of circumstances back into society.
Starker is now in Pretoria and very proud that his long and dangerous venture would one day uplift the life of some kid, who would have been destined to premature death because of Aids or other nasty incidents.
The South African was well supported and I pray that should a local athlete or anybody try the same adventure, however small, let’s support them.
When we were chronicling Starker’s journey, a certain reader threw an unfortunate racist remark at me, saying we were all excited with Starker because he was white.
While I didn’t like the racist tone but I must admit I agreed with him.
We locals don’t seem to exude any confidence from potential benefactors because we lack accountability.
And that lack of accountability is prevalent in sports. Most sports associations don’t get support in most of their fund-raising ventures because of lack of transparency.
A lot of money benefits the sports officials than the athlete and that’s why potential sponsors shun many of our activities.
While we may all cry that we are willing to do what Starker did but we never get the support because we are black, start by being proactive.
Start a very ambitious project; lay out the plans in a meticulous and transparent report that would convince the sponsors that indeed every penny will help the underprivileged.
If, say, athletics wanted to round up all the street kids and try to identify talent in them, I am quite sure a sponsor can be impressed as long as our strategy would market such a benefactor.
So, congratulations to Starker and all the sponsors who made this possible and let’s think on how we can get these street kids back into school and possibly get them to know a certain sport they can excel in.
Most of these kids don’t know sport because of lack of resources but they can get the exposure in schools.
God bless you all.