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Cricket is failing its black spectators

Mon, 15 June 2015 15:51
by Andreas Kathindi


I still remember the time when I was first introduced to cricket. Funnily enough, it was from neighbourhood friends in Ongwediva, not from Supersport or anything like that. Before then, the only similar sport I was aware of was baseball because of movies, and softball because my aunt played it.
The only reason I was introduced to the sport at this time was because Namibia made the World Cup in 2003. There was a cricket frenzy, which unfortunately did not snap me up, but most of my friends from Ongwediva started joining teams.
Obviously not every single one of them maintained their love for the sport, or continued with cricket, but it is not understandable that almost every set-up of the national squad has only a few black players.
I understand that for ages we have had what people call ‘White people’s sports’ and ‘Black people’s sports’. Soccer is considered for blacks while rugby, cricket, bowling and so forth is for whites.
Despite the fact that interest may just not be there from potential participants, it cannot be the case all the time. Namibia had a very strong community of white footballers before independence, who somehow completely vanished afterwards.
Without trying to sound too political but definitely not racial, one only needs to show up at the Independence Stadium on March 21 to gauge white people’s interest in matters where black people have amassed, be it sport or otherwise.
I think it’s fair to say most white people have no interest in local football, just as black people have very little interest in sports codes like archery, for example. You can’t blame the sport itself for its lack of diversity.
But for cricket, a sport which has shown it can draw in black people even at places like Ongwediva, something I witnessed with my own eyes, excuses of a lack of interest just do not hold.
Sports codes complain about a lack of funds from government a lot, but no African government wants to hand out chunks of money just to see one group of people excel.
It is my belief that there are lots of talented black cricketers in schools, and it has to be the onus of the Namibia Cricket Board (NCB) to find these gems. Cricket, unlike soccer or archery, has the massive potential to be a unifying sport in Namibia, where both black and white spectators can come together to cheer on a diverse team.
But it is my belief that not enough is being done to reach the schools in all the regions. Both the Namibia School Sports Union (NSSU) and the NCB have to come together to solve this. It is always quite disappointing to watch an all-white Namibian cricket team when the spectators there tell a different story.
Namibian cricket has already been accused of racism by one of their own players, Pikky Ya France, and two years on, we still aren’t seeing even attempts at trying to change that situation.