The Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka, Zambia, hosted a five-nation hockey tournament in March for young men and women from Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to compete for a place at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) taking place in Nanjing, China, this August.
A key part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Sport for Hope programme, the OYDC welcomes thousands of youngsters every month and seeks to promote and facilitate access to sport for athletes and local communities.
Over the course of the five-day tournament, crowds from all five nations filled the multi-sport complex to cheer on their respective teams battling it out on the field. South Africa confirmed its status as pre-tournament favourites as both the men and women took first place. Host nation Zambia was also victorious as the home-grown talent made history to secure their place for Nanjing 2014.
A proud mother of a Zambian player said: “The games were excellent. They have made not only us parents proud, but also the nations.”
“We have watched these young men and women walk into the Olympic Youth Development Centre without any knowledge of the existence of hockey,” enthused the Director of the OYDC, Clement Chileshe. “And now, three years later, they have qualified for their first ever major international sporting event!”
The Zambian hockey team will be joined on their road to Nanjing by some of the nation’s top young swimmers and rising judo stars Joshua Nyondo and Nokuthula Banda.
The OYDC will soon celebrate its fourth anniversary
Following the success of the centre in Zambia, a second OYDC is being built in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. As with the first Centre in Zambia, the OYDC in Haiti will serve the local community and elite athletes, and will include sporting venues as well as healthcare and educational programmes and administrative facilities.