Following his appointment last week as secretary-general of the Namibian Paralympics Committee (NPC), Michael Hamukwaya said it will not be easy to find a new national Paralympics coach.
Hamukwaya has served as the national coach of the Namibia team since 2003, and has overseen some of the sport’s most successful periods, including 2012 when Johanna Benson brought home gold medal from the Paralympics held in London.
However, he said as he served mainly on a voluntary basis for all those years, it will not be easy for someone else to give that same level of commitment.
“Anybody interested can still approach us, but can still take up the job. Coaches are very expensive and as we stand, we just don’t have enough sponsors to maintain that. We hope to change that in the near future,” said Hamukwaya.
He acknowledges that appointment as secretary-general will leave a gap in the role of the national coach, but that it will be a decision of the committee to find a new coach.
“It won’t be easy to find someone willing to give you their experience without payment, but we have to start somewhere. It takes a lot, and I did it for all these years, coming to the stadium for training with your own transport and so forth,” he said, adding, “In Namibia, we don’t have enough people who are interested in para-sport. We need more para-coaches in Namibia because a person cannot be a volunteer forever.”
Hamukawa, who replaced Penandino Kandjii at an elective congress by the NPC, explained that he will continue to serve as a coach in some capacity as it is something he is passionate about. Hamukwaya runs the Namib Lions Athletics Club where he coaches both abled and disabled athletes. He also does coaching at a grassroots level, which he says he has done since 2003 without pay.
Hamukwaya’s team of Paralympic athletes, including Johanna Benson, Ananias Shikongo, Chamelle van der Westhuizen and others did very well at the South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled (SASAPD) championships, picking up several gold medals at the three day event.
With his experience and success as a national coach, he said the transition might be tough but that his new role will be more important.
“It is just a new beginning. It’s too early of course to say how things will go, but our biggest aim is to bring in more sponsors. Paralympics is a very busy sport. If you look around the world, Paralympic athletes play throughout the year, but it is also costly as they have to travel a lot. I will be able to do much more for my athletes in this role,” said Hamukwaya. He furthered added, “Our aim is to get our athletes to qualify for the World Championships and have at least for one our athletes. We are also pushing to have 10 to 12 athletes qualify for next year’s Paralympics in Brazil.”