With the budget release last week came sports lovers’ hope for more and the Ministry of Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture (MYNSSC) did get more in its N$709 245m 2014/15 financial year allocation.
Despite the total increase of N$27245m from last year’s N$682m, the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) will still cry.
This is because regardless of the national rugby team (Welwitschias) qualifying for the Rugby World Cup on several occasions and on the verge of qualifying for its fifth successive World Cup, its mother body, NRU, continues to receive less money compared to other sport codes, such as soccer.
Last year, NRU received N$1.5m and despite that, the body ensured the Welwitschias progressed to the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Division 1-A when it won the CAR African Cup last year in Senegal.
Now Welwitschias will be playing South Africa’s U/20 squad as preparation for the team’s CAR Division 1-A tournament that will determine the second African team that will join South Africa for the 2015 World Cup. But is that really what we want for our national team?
Do we really need our national team to be playing games against players aged below 20?
The answer boils down to money issues. MYNSSC received N$709 245m from the national budget this year and usually, over 85% of this budget allocation is spent on the ministry’s personnel and operational expenses, which leaves about 15% for the developmental of arts, sport and cultural activities for all Namibians. That is way less given the fact that Namibia has 52 sport codes.
Rugby has undoubtedly been Namibia’s most successful sport code since Independence. Namibia did not qualify for the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa but since then, it has qualified for four successive World Cups in Wales in 1999, Australia in 2003, France in 2007 and New Zealand in 2011.
And to qualify for the fifth consecutive World Cup, which is to be held in England in 2015, the Welwitschias first have to pass through enough obstacles.
NRU CEO, Sybrand de Beer recently told The Villager Sports they need about N$15m to conduct all their planned activities for 2014.
“We only submitted a N$5m proposal to the ministry but we need more than that,” he said.
Unlike other teams, Welwitschias do not get enough game time to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers, to be held in Madagascar from June 26th to July 6th. This is because there is no money.
Thirdly, to get a spot in the World Cup, Welwitschias would have to beat teams such as Kenya, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
Bad food, accommodation dilemmas, bad pitches and provoking players are just some of the tricks opponents use in Africa.
“It was a very dirty match and the Tunisians were out to fight dirty from the start. They were constantly fighting and trying to provoke our players but the Namibian team kept its discipline,” said de Beer after the team defeated Tunisia in Senegal last year.
While it is definite Welwitschias will play South Africa’s U/20 this May, the team needs more matches but NRU is not in a position to play matches with top sides, as one rugby match with an African side can cost up to N$300 000 and N$800 000 with an international side.
NRU does not only have the Welwitschias under its wings. It also has the Namibian Sevens and the U/19 teams (Baby Welwitschias). Baby Welwitchias are ranked seventh in the world and will be competing in the International Rugby Board (IRB) U/20 World Rugby Trophy in Hong Kong this April.
With all these on NRU’s shoulders, it will be interesting to see how much it gets from the ministry this year.
If anyone from the Youth Ministry is reading this, please pass the message to whoever allocates funds to sport codes. To the corporate companies, please, NRU offices are located at Hage Geingob Stadium, Lightenstein Street, Olympia. Help!