THE National Amputee's preparations for the South African games to try and sneak into the Paralympic Games scheduled for Paris this year have been hampered by funding constraints, head coach Elliot Mujaji said yesterday.
The prestigious Winelands International Para Athletics scheduled for Stellenbosch, Cape Town South Africa on February 24 is an important event on the Paralympics competitions calendar.
Paralympian Mujaji added that he is having restless noons and sleepless nights knocking on one door and another in anticipation of sponsorship to make this trip a reality.
"We are going to South Africa next week on the 21st of February with 11 athletes. They need to camp in Harare but things are not well for us," Mujaji told Standardsport.
"We are desperately in need of money for camping with the athletes so that they prepare very well since they are all in different places and need proper monitoring before departure."
Mujaji revealed a modest camping budget of $1500 for a five-day camp in Harare but small as it may appear none of the sponsors has heeded their plea.
"Participation in these games is very very important since it is an IPC-sanctioned event and it’s for our athletes to try and qualify for the Paris Paralympic Games," he said.
"Basically we need to camp at least five days at most before departure and this will help us assess all our athletes. For the camping event to take place, a total of US$1500 is required for the camping in Harare. As for the Cape Town trip we may also require out of pocket allowances for the whole delegation which has 15 people."
The now retired track and field athlete and veteran of four Paralympics events last month lashed out at the government over neglect of differently abled athletes.
"It has been a challenge getting people with disabilities sponsorship for them to do well in sport. It's one hindering challenge that we are facing as people with disabilities. The government; I wouldn't want to say the corporate world but I would want to challenge the government that they must look at us as equal to the able bodied athletes and we can do much better," Mujaji told this publication.
"If you look at people who have achieved much in sport in this country, we can just call it 50-50. Look at Kirsty Coventry, (Zimbabwe Sports minister and most decorated African Olympian), look at myself and wholesale? So, I think they have to support us so that we can do even better than what I did. We still have a lot of young athletes who need that kind of support so that they can excell. We have academies and none is supporting."
Mujaji debuted at the Paralympics in Sydney, Australia in 2000 and won a gold medal in the 100m spirit.
At the 2004 Athens Paralympics in Greece, he won another gold medal in the same 100m race. He also participated at the 2008 Games in Beijing, China and his last event was the 2012 Manchester, London Paralympics.