The head coach of the national female indoor hockey team, Erwin Handura, has expressed satisfaction over the level of competitiveness of the side following a spirited performance against neighbouring South Africa recently.
The Namibian side held their own against their much-fancied opponents from across the !Gariep, the original Nama name for the Orange River, during a recent five match test series played in Swakopmund, Namibia.
Handura told The Villager in an interview last week that the female indoor hockey team is on the right path currently and that their performance is above expectation.
The five match test series served as preparation for the indoor world cup qualifiers slated for next year.
Although the Namibian team lost three matches they managed to clinch two wins.
The team will now start to prepare for the world cup qualifiers in which they are expected to play three games against South Africa if they have to have any hope of participating in the epic event in billed for Argentina.
The Namibian men and women indoor hockey teams are both ranked second in Africa, while they also occupy the same position at 15 in the world rankings.
In the outdoor version of the game the Namibian women hockey team is ranked 4th in Africa and the men at number 5. Handura told The Villager that he is very much satisfied with the performance of hockey in Namibia, bearing in mind that the country’s population is low and hockey is not popular among Namibians.
“Because of our population it is obvious that we don’t have the number of players that other countries are having, but we have a competitive national indoor and outdoor leagues. The Indoor League runs from January up to April and the National League runs from June until October, so we have two different league but these leagues are competitive” said Handura.
Handura is of the opinion that in two to three years to come, Namibian hockey will be a force to be reckoned with, especially in the indoor version of the game, which is played more frequently and in which the country has been excelling as the playing surface is standard throughout.
In the short term, he sees the national team improving on the ranking and make their mark on a world stage if they keep the same trend of competitiveness.
“If the team keeps playing the way they do now, then they will improve because hockey is about competition. And the biggest challenge would be if the team does not participate in continental or international competitions,” Handura professed.
Handura further expressed his concern on the lack of enough funding for sports in the country, which is not only a problem of hockey but all sports code in the Namibia.
“The biggest challenge for all sports in Namibia is financing, to finance a team to go to the competitions, as long as we have funds to compete against other nations our standard will improve,” said Handura.
Other challenges that are hampering the development of hockey in Namibia is the scarcity of facilities as the only proper place to play hockey is the Dome in Swakopmund. He suggested that the best way to address this issue is to least build a multi-purpose indoor complex with a big hall and then focus more on playing indoor hockey, which is much cheaper than the artificial turf. Because the outdoor game requires a wall to prevent the ball from going out, more funds are needed for that.
Previously, Namibia competed in the Indoor World Cup in 2011 held in Poznan, Poland as well as the Commonwealth Games and the performances were not bad.
Commenting on the performance of the women national indoor team that played against South Africa in Swakopmund on the weekend of 25 of November were they won two out of five tests, Handura said, “You could see in the first three games that we, as a team, made too many unforced errors and could not convert the chances we created and our poor decisions, so those three games that we lost is because of our own mistakes and they just capitalised on our errors. In the games that we won, I just told the players that there is no more room for errors and things went well.”
According to Handura the national team needs regular competition on a highest level to improve their fitness like they did last year in South Africa at the four nation’s tournament where they finished second.