The legacy left behind by the Boers coupled with the determination of athletes and administrators as well as the natural abilities of individual athletes have been responsible for the country’s sports success.
Cricket and rugby have been to the biggest platform of any sports code, the World Cup. It is a public secret that cricket and rugby are controlled by whites in this country. Blacks have sought space in running or being involved in rugby and cricket, but failed. Why? Because since pre-colonial Namibia, whites have wanted to develop talent and manage them successfully.
In Namibia, you don’t see whites in boxing or soccer. Few are in athletics. Namibia has had success in boxing (World Champions), which is an individual sport, and athletics (Olympic medals), also an individual sport. Both sports codes are a haven for blacks in Namibia.
I enjoy talking about race in this country because it is not as sensitive as tribal issues. We are more united by race rather than by tribe.
Sports codes that are run by whites have had success in Namibia. Sports codes run by blacks are a shame but sports code where blacks participate as individuals have equally been a success.
Apparently, from 22 to 25 this month a national sports conference will be held for the first time in Namibian history. It will be hosted by the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC).
Speakers include Dr. Hage Geingob the NSC Patron, Dr. Abraham Iyambo our education Minister whose role I don’t understand at this event, blabbermouth Kazenambo Kazenambo the Minister of National Youth Service, Youth and Culture, whose role I also don’t know, Tim Ekandjo of MTC the country’s biggest sports sponsors, one Ulitala Hiveluah NSC Chairperson and Abner Xoagub from the national Olympic committee.
The list looks more like a political gathering than a sports indaba.
I really don’t have a problem with inviting Hage, but his only problem is that for the next 15 months ahead of the announcement of the country’s next President, everything Hage says outside his line-Ministry will be scrutunised and every platform he speaks maybe interpreted as a political campaign speech.
Who decided on inviting these people? Why do you call the Minister of Education? What for? Yes, there is a link between education and sport, but it’s not like we only realise it today.
Also not welcome is KK. All along I thought Kazenambo Kazenambo has surrendered the Ministry of Sports to Pohamba Shifeta. KK represents Youth and Culture, the Ovaherero and Swapo, more than he is the face of sport. So what is he doing here? What does he know about Sport? Obviously his speech will be prepared by Shifeta.
Majority of these speakers has no inkling of what sports is all about. I have never seen KK or Iyambo at the stadium. They were not even cheerleaders when we were in exile.
This conference’s theme ‘Focus on the Future’ is utter hogwash. The only theme we need in our sport is money. Money from Government.
Sport has solved issues of corruption, incompetency, etc over the years. What we lack is Government involvement and support.
Instead of speaking, Government officials must come and listen from us. Listen to sports journalists, listen to administrators, to sportsmen, listen to former administrators, and listen to former sportsmen and women. Lest this gathering becomes a host of sports-political fools scrambling for a place in the next Government.
We do not exist at sports international gatherings because of Government’s lack of appreciation from Pohamba et al. We all are proud of Frank Fredericks’ success at international stage, but do we know that in his all decade long career, Frankie only got N$10 000 from Government?
Iyambo, Hage and KK all talk of employment creation, but none has realised that sports is the biggest employer in the world if these sports personalities are given structures and support to turn professionals.
I accuse the State of failing to provide the needed facilities as well as want of functional sports policy to drive the process. Administrators and coaches have been lackadaisical towards sports because this has come too long with them working without enough support.
I would have loved to have the Minister of Defence give a speech at the conference because our boxers, Paulus Moses, Japhet Uutoni, Paulus Ambunda, Taks Naule and athlete Helalia Johannes are all employed by either defence or safety and security ministries. In fact, the whole bunch of boxers going to the AAG is made up of uniformed forces’ members.
Lack of foresight and well-laid out plans for sports development have been the country’s bane and it has greatly affected performance. For Namibia to make meaningful successes at international fora, the Government must create an atmosphere conducive for credible sports administrators to come in as well as partner with the private sector in the management of sports.
Private organisations should begin to fund sports, build stadia, sports centres, as it is in other parts of the world. Even in some African countries, private organizations build facilities; club houses, athletes’ hostels and such other essentials needed for sports to thrive.
But private sector cannot do this without GRN showing interest first.
On the matter of paucity of funds, there are long term programmes for which funds should be released for training well ahead of the competition the athletes would attend. But this does not exist in Namibia.
Places which can be used to be the oasis for sports talents like the North, the coast, Epako and Kaokoland, do not have recreation centres or play grounds where fresh talents could easily be spotted and then groomed for national and international competitions. This week, Real Madrid signed a 7-year old from Argentina. In Namibia, that talent is seen when you are 70, after you have bashed your wife in the North.
Those Himbas in Kaokoland can make great runners, believe me.
Most schools in Windhoek today have no sports facilities. With this, tell me, how will an athlete be discovered? Tell me what Iyambo is coming to tell us.
The army, the police and the prison service are the main sports conveyor belts and have brought honour to this country.
Directors of sports sit in their offices doing nothing, while talents are wasting away in their respective local government areas.
We don’t know where we are heading to. When the Russians vied into sports they knew what they wanted, same with the Americans. The English people knew what they wanted before participating in sports but the case of Namibia is different.
When Kenyans, Ethiopians and South Africans prepare for major competition, they do it with all seriousness, planning ahead of time. But in Namibia, we always are looking for ways to make the officials happy, not the athletes, or how to develop the sports.
It is no longer administrators that are destroying sports but Government because of lack of defined programmes and objectives for sports; because of not funding sports.
There are no longer competitions at the grassroots levels, competitions that bring talent growth and ultimately results in surfeit of talents, because administrators do not have enough funds.
I wish to know how the NFA got this Dream Team (Brave Warriors B) to camp in Ghana. On whose money because I doubt GRN was involved.
It’s not like we cannot find other athletes better than Frankie, Agnes Samaria or Harry Simon. Already Hitman and Tjipee have done that. But it will only end with them.
Look at this for example, if Nestor Tobias dies today, if Hitman (33), Harry Simon (38), and Paulus Ambunda (31) call it quit who will replace them? None.
For there to be a revival, Government policy and funding should also be geared towards sports, since it is the veritable tool for achieving international recognition and bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, creating employment and fostering national unity.
The Ministry of National Service, Youth, Sport and Culture is the biggest in Namibia. Sport is swallowed in youth, in culture, and national service. This conference must cut this, or Hage must forget my vote come 2014.