Both Government through the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture and the Namibia Sports Commission are playing the blame game and refusing to take the responsibility for underfunding of other sport codes since independence Writes The Villager Senior Sports Writer Michael Uugwanga.
Despite disability Sports, Boxing, Rugby, and Athletics being by far the most successful sport codes on both the continental and international level, they still have to make amends with a shoe string budget while soccer which continues to brew disappointments enjoy the lion’s share of the sports budget.
Research by The Villager shows that Rugby which has made four appearances at the World Cup receives N$1.5million, Tennis gets a meagre N$20 000, disability sports rarely gets N$500 000, boxing N$85 000 while Netball say they do not get anything from state coffers annually.
Ironically soccer receives around N$8m.
Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture, Dr Vetumbuavi Veii said his ministry does not have the jurisdiction to decide on how much different sports codes receive and pushed the blame to the Sports Commission.
“The ministry does not decide the amount of funding to be allocated to sport codes. You should ask the Sports Commission on that,” said Veii.
However, Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), Chief Administrator Shivute Katamba, admitted that there is a mismatch in the funding of different sport codes and the NSC are working flat out to rectify the problem.
“ We are not responsible for funding national teams such as football and rugby because they get funding from Government as an act of parliament. We only help them with administrations.
“That is why we had the sport conference in April in order to end this issue of underfunding,” said Katamba.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU), Sybrand de Beer, said he has no idea, why rugby still continue to receive little funding, despite its great success.
“I don’t know what we have to do to get equal funding like football, even though we were told that we will be getting the same amount as soccer because of our past achievements such as qualifying for World Cups, but up to now we do not know. It was the board before us that were told. We haven’t received funding yet this year,” said de Beer.
Secretary-General of the Namibia Paralympic Committee (NPC) Drusilla Kandjii said, disability sport is still not considered by many as an ordinary sport despite its achievements at major events adding that they barely receive N$1m.
“For some people, disability is still seen as a taboo sport compared to other sport codes although we are the only sport code to bring a gold medal from the Paralympic Games. We even received less funding for the 2012 Paralympics Games, while Olympics athletes got more yet they failed to bring a single medal,” she said.
She added that,” The only way we can close the gap is to educate the people especially the corporate world like what they are doing in other countries. Oscar Pistorius has the sponsors on his side while he is disabled so why can’t we do the same with Johanna Benson.”
Secretary-General of the Namibia Boxing Federation (NBF), Joe Kaperu said boxing still has a long way to be at the same level as football and rugby in terms of funding even though it continues to attract big turnouts at its events.
“What the boxing board have to do to get more funding in the future like football and rugby is to market the sport more. We have to start at grassroots level. We need to introduce boxing at school level in order to keep away the youth from drugs. Nedbank for example used to sponsor boxing but they decided not to sponsor the sport because they said it is a blood sport and they said they didn’t like it. We get N$85 000,” he said.
Secretary-General of the All Namibia Netball Association (ANNA), Lydia Mutenda said the reason why netball is underfunded is because of its past poor management.
“From 2003-2008, the sport was dead and it was only from 2009 to now that the sport has become a bit visible. As far as funding allocation is concerned, we always get what we want from the NSC. You cannot expect netball to be funded while it is no longer visible,” said Mutenda.
Poor funding of other sports codes in the country is so dire that sometimes athletes in the poorly funded organisations struggle for their upkeep.