Weater polo might not be the most popular sport code in Namibia, let alone in Africa, but this sports’ administration in Namibia has its eyes set on the previously disadvantage community. This according to the president of Namibia Canoe Row Association (NCRA) Mike Haimbodi.
“The sport was established before Independence and it was mostly played by the white community but it will soon to be introduce to the previously disadvantage people. The Katutura Municipality Swimming Pool will be the starting point,” Haibodi said.
Haimbodi also said, “We do have people in Zambezi and Kavango regions who have canoes and I do not see any point why those people cannot play the sport. They just need to be taught about the tactics especially on how to use the ball,” said Haimbodi.
Currently Namibia has only two black water polo players Reonaldo Snyder and Esther Shilamba.
“It is scary to have only two black people playing the sport and it is a big challenge for us. The sport will grow in the near future. This is what I am currently working on. We want to make sure that the sport reaches all four corners of the country,” said Haimbodi who is also the first black president of NCRA.
Water Polo is a team water sport. The game consists of 4 quarters (or periods) in which the two teams attempt to score goals by throwing the ball into their opposition’s goal, with the team that scores the most goals winning the game.
Water polo was developed by William Wilson in the late 19th century, as a sort of water rugby in Scotland.
Water Polo is one of several sporting disciplines that form part of the International Canoe Federation, but not many countries in Africa compete in it.
The game developed with the formation of the London water polo league and has since expanded, becoming widely popular in various places around the world, notably mainland Europe, the United States of America, China, Canada and Australia.
“Unfortunately in Namibia the sport cannot stand on its own because we do not have the funds for the sport unlike in South Africa were it is a federation on its own,” said Haimbodi.
Despite the little N$ 7 000 funding NCRA receives per year from the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) for administrations purposes, Haimbodi said the federation cannot even afford its own canoes.
The prize money for one canoe is N$15 000 but Haimbodi told The Villager Sports that his federation is waiting for four canoes from South Africa’s canoe federation.
“At least NSC have been helpful to us and we really appreciate what they are doing to us. It might not be enough but it is something. We are not only waiting for four canoes from South Africa but we are also likely to receive N$ 1,5m from the German Rowing federation in order to develop the sport underground for three years.
Haimbodi also added, “As part of the money, there will be also some volunteers who will be carrying out workshops with those passing with flying colours getting scholarship to study in Germany,” said Haimbodi.
Last year, Namibia hosted the African Canoe Polo Championships at the Olympia Swimming Pool in Windhoek on the weekend of 22 and 23 September 2013 as a qualifier for the 11th International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Polo World Championships 2014 to be held in Thury-Harcourt, France.
This year in June, Namibia went to Durban, South Africa to take part in the African Polo Championships in which the country ended in third place behind winners, South Africa and Egypt in a tournament that also consisted of Tunisia and Morocco and Haimbodi said June’s edition was the last for the calendar year.
“We have a great under 21 side that is one to look out for in the near future. We are not going to have another event or to take part in other competitions this year as far I know,” said Haimbodi.