Government finally, through the Sports Ministry, made a N$1m donation to the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC), to cover Team Namibia’s expenses for the Summer Games last week.
Team Namibia jetted to London last Friday (20th July) ahead of the world sporting showdown alongside hundreds of country representatives from around the world at the Athletic Village.
Compared to Namibia, its mega-rich Sadc sister-country, South Africa, has to date allocated R78m for the preparations and actual games, of which N$13.8m would be spent to incentivise SA’s medal winners at the London games.
However, in Namibia’s case, it is not known how much from the availed N$1m will now be used to incentivise the athletes given that most of them have had to struggle without State subsidies to qualify for the epic games.
The Director of Sport in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Vetumbuavi Veii confirmed to The Villager Sports though adamantly, that the said amount had indeed been donated to the NNOC.
“The money was given to help with purchasing flight tickets and pocket money for the athletes but the NNOC is in a better position to disclose to you further how the money will be spent.
“But really, why do you want to know how much was contributed?” Asked the director.
It is yet to be established if the money spent by the NNOC in preparing the nine athletes for the Summer Games was sufficient for the national anthem to be played at the games to be listened to by millions of people worldwide.
Veii, who is also the official spokesperson to the Directorate of Sports, pinned his hopes for medals on Dan Craven and Marc Bassingthwaighte (cyclists), Gaby Ahrens (shooter), Mejandjae Kasuto and Jonas Matheus (boxers), Beata Naigambo and Helalia Johannes (marathon runners).
“Their level of competition is very high but for, Tjipekapora Herunga (sprinter) and Sem Shilimela (wrestler), it is going to be very tough. We will keep our fingers crossed but the reality on the ground is that they face a very tough competition,” stressed Veii.
He added that Shilimela, if pinned against opponents from Egypt, Cuba and Russia, will find the going pretty tough.
Team Namibia’s Chef de Mission, Ndeulipula Hamutumwa, however, commended the N$1m Government contribution though added that the money was released very late, hence, hindering pledges.
He said: “If the money would have been released earlier, we could have known how much to pledge to the athletes as incentives for the medals but really, my wish is to give N$200 000 to any athlete who will have won a gold medal. You know our athletes come from difficult economic backgrounds and it would definitely be a good thing if they (athletes) could make a living from sports.”
Team Namibia’s officials are also expected to get their allowances from the N$1m while each athlete will pocket N$10 000 as pocket money while in London.
Neighbouring South Africa has pledged N$400 000 to any athlete who will have won a gold medal, N$200 000 to the silver medallists and N$100 000 to the bronze medallists.
“The minister will be in London for the whole duration of the games and is expected to attend the Commonwealth Ministers’ of Sports meeting while there,” disclosed the director.
Veii who is also the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone VI Youth Games Chairperson will convene a meeting to update the Sadc Sport Ministers on the December Youth Games in Lusaka, Zambia while in London at the sidelines of the games.
Both Kazenambo and Veii depart today for London and are to join Team Namibia for a welcoming reception organised by Namibia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), George Liswaniso this Thursday while the official opening ceremony for the games is slated for this Friday.