While many sports lovers in Namibian do not relate much to the Rowing sport other than when it’s shown on Television during the Olympic Games, the first steps towards establishing the sport at a national level are in motion.
International Rowing Federation (IRF) Development Consultant Dr Sallie Malt who was in the country recently organised a coaching clinic at Lake Oanab Resort in Rehoboth with the aim of sensitising the public about the sport.
The clinic was attended by new local rowing coaches from the Khomas, Hardap, Karas, Kavango, Zambezi regions and the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) representative Ivon Nande and some learners from Windhoek High School and Deautsche Hohere Privatschule Windhoek respectively.
Similar coaching clinics have been introduced in Zambia and Botswana by Malta who said that she was impressed with the commitment and dedication from the Namibian participants.
“ This is my third country in Africa after I introduced similar clinics in Zambia and Botswana because countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya are already advanced in the sport and I also want it to happen in Namibia,” Malt told The Villager Sport.
Malt hails from Britain where she is a science school teacher by profession and also a rowing tutor in south London.
Rowing, often referred to as crew in the United States, is a sport with origins back to Ancient Egyptian times.
Rowing is also based on propelling a boat (racing shell) on water using oars.
There are a number of different boat classes in which athletes compete, ranging from an individual shell (called a single scull) to an eight person shell with coxswain (called a coxed eight).
It was only in 1976 that women’s rowing was added to the Olympic program making it one of the oldest Olympic sports and has been competed since 1900, while since 2008, rowing has also been competed at the Paralympic Games.
There are two forms of rowing, sweep with, each rower has one oar, held with both hands which is done in pairs, fours, and eights and sculling in which each rower has two oars, one in each hand.
Ray Potter is Namibia’s top sculling rowers and is currently based in Britain studying having represented Namibia at last year’s World Rowing championships in Chungju, South Korea and at the recent Commonwealth Games but failed to win a medal at both events.
Today, only fourteen boat classes are raced at the Olympics, across men and women, something that Malt wants the country to become competitive on the world stage in the near future.
“I would be happy to see Namibia competition at the Olympics and other events. I will be supporting both Britain and Namibia at such events and it will be nice to see them playing out one day.
“We want the sport to become big in Africa because at the end it will be unfair for the sport to be only for Europeans.
“The Germans and the British row team will be impress if they see this flatness of the because there is nothing like this in Britain and it will be a good practice for them,” said Malt.
Meanwhile, president of NCRF Mike Haimbodi also revealed to The Villager Sport that the federation will relocate its headquarters to Rehoboth after acquiring a 2 hector piece of land at Oanab resort.
Currently NCRF is renting a small office in a backyard of a house in Suiderhof and uses its N$ 7 000 grants from the NSC every year for administration purposes.
“We pay N$ 1.5000 for rent. We have bought the piece of land for N$ 800 000 thought the place might not be as big as one will want but it is something to cheer for. Rehoboth will be the head office and not Windhoek. We will be at this site for the next 80 years which is a very long time. We are also going to have a full time administrator because the current one is on a part time basis,” said Haimbodi.
Rowing is mostly played in Rivers and Dams which makes Kavango, Zambezi, Khomas and Karas regions the only preferred locations to host the sport.
Haimbodi is however concern about the health hazard at the Goreangab Dam in Windhoek.
“There is a dam in Mariental but we will see if we will have a chance of having the sport there. The City of Windhoek keeps its sewages at Goreangab dam which is not favourable for the rowers,” said Haimbodi.
Haimbodi also announced that IRF donated five boats (two singles and two doubles) and five ego meter machine with NCRF now looking at introducing the sport amongst the Namibian Police Force (Nampol), Namibia Defence Force (NDF) and the Namibian Navy as a way of promoting the sport.
“It will be good if we introduce the navy since they operate on the sea and rowing is played in the water. It will also be good to have NDF and Nampol because those people are very energetic,” said Haimbodi.