CGTN Exclusive with new Zimbabwe's sports minister Kirsty Coventry
Updated 14:10, 19-Sep-2018
Sports Scene
Sportswomen in Africa are breaking new ground beyond the sport. Well, at least, that appears to be the case in Zimbabwe where Africa's most decorated Olympian Kirsty Coventry has taken charge of the country's sports ministry. 
After 16 years as a professional swimmer, the seven-time Olympic gold medalist will be splashing into new roles at Zimbabwe's executive level. In an exclusive interview with CGTN's Farai Mwakutuya, Coventry spoke on her appointment and what it means for women empowerment in sports.
While new to the job, she knows all about high pressure and huge expectations and says there's a lot in store as she's promised to shake things up. Coventry said, "It will be exciting to see and to hear exactly what our youth are wanting, how we can best support them and how we can best support our athletes and our artists and what platforms can we create and let's think completely outside the box." 
"Maybe it's not about doing the things we have been doing, it's completely turning the triangle upside down. I don't know if everybody else is ready for that, but I am pretty excited about being given the opportunity to do that."
It's the first time Zimbabwe has named a former professional athlete to the government. Coventry believes her appointment is a big deal for women. "I think it's a huge thing for female equality, and I am excited about it because I think in Africa we still have that concept a little bit of boys play sport and girls do more of your cultural activities, your choirs, singing."
"I think it's really powerful for his excellency to have said girls can do this job, and they are ready. Let's give them the opportunity, and think that is probably the biggest things I am most honored about that I get to fulfill that role and be that role model for those young girls and show them that they can do anything they set their minds too," she added.
Seven-time Olympic medal-winning swimmer Kirsty Coventry is Africa's most decorated Olympian. /VCG Photo

Seven-time Olympic medal-winning swimmer Kirsty Coventry is Africa's most decorated Olympian. /VCG Photo

While replying to the question of how Zimbabwe as a whole country is polarized, youths are dejected and not optimistic about the future, Coventry mentioned, "I think it will take people and our country and our youth recognize that they are valuable to us, to this country, and what we need from them is for them to be willing to work. It takes time."
"Having a big dream, I was nine years old, and 12 years later is when that dream became a reality, you don't just wake up one day and say I wanna be Strive Masiyiwa or Bill Gates or I wanna be like Ronaldo. It takes time, it takes commitment, and it takes passion. It takes hard work, so if people are willing to work hard then there are amazing things we can achieve. But if people are just wanting to expect things and then we are not going to achieve very much." 
She also seemed to be well aware of the realities of constrained resources and conceded that "The first year we may not get all the finance that we need, but the finance we do get what are we gonna do with it, are we gonna be effective with it and efficient and get the highest impact we can." 
"How are we gonna create a partnership with corporations, with NGOs, with people that are already doing things that I have high impact? It's not going to suddenly be better tomorrow, but hopefully, in the next few years, things will turn around."
The countrymen and women whom she's given so much to cheer for in the past hope she can do it again, in her new role.