By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIAN sport is in Acute Care Unit. That’s unfortunately the painful truth. Go around and ask any code if they are doing fine; more than two thirds will say all is not well, although they are trying to put up a brave face for the sake of the sport code and the athletes.
The only remedy is Minister of Sport, Jerry Ekandjo and his Deputy Agnes Tjongarero to establish a Commission of Inquiry that will seriously investigate the status of sport in the country.
Namibian sport died in the 1990s. That is the decade when Namibians were spoilt for choice. The Brave Warriors were on top of their game; Frank Fredericks, Agnes Samaria and Luketz Swartbooi were burning the tracks. It was fun to be a sports lover back then.
Things have changed today. It is even a struggle to send athletes to international events and those that get there are not adequately prepared. Administrators are taking centre stage and athletes are relegated to insignificance.
Something is definitely not adding up. Do we have wrong sport administrators who do not have blue prints to move their sports from one level to the next? Until when are we going to hear the refrain that there is no money for sports development? Or even infrastructure.
Is there even political will to turn our sports around?
It has become saddening to always hear of lack of funds or material support from Government and corporates to get a team to compete in an international competition. Athletes participate in sports for recognition and excellence. They want to test themselves against the best in the region, on the continent and beyond.
If that doesn’t happen they withdraw, find other things to do. And this is where it becomes dangerous for Namibia. Some unmotivated athletes simply choose the easy way out and this is to start experimenting with drugs and alcohol. They simply fall into the abyss from whence it is difficult to pluck them and put them back into society.
If nobody had told this to the politicians, let them read it here that it is very expensive to treat drug and alcohol abuse than it is to fund sports programmes that produce healthy and strong Namibians who put the country’s name on the map.
Namibia is currently on the map as one of the top alcohol consuming countries. It is not difficult to see why that is the case. Drastic and urgent interventions are needed to make sports a top priority in this country.
We need to piggy back on President Hage Geingob’s love for sports. His presence at almost all the matches during the just-ended COSAFA Cup should tell us that sports is an important part of society and that all young men and women should be encouraged to participate in the sports of their choice.
Former Director of Sports, Dr Vetumbuavi Veii, would not miss an opportunity to tell the nation that “A healthy and fit body houses a healthy mind”. That quote in itself demonstrates the value of sports to an individual and to the nation.
But the situation on the ground speaks of something else. Netball Namibia is struggling to raise funds to send a team to the Africa Under 21 Championships just next door in Botswana; Athletics Namibia could not get the Jamaica-based athletes to the African Athletics Championships in Durban because of funds; The Namibia Premier League is under threat of collapse if no money is found before end of July as per the dictates of a sponsor, and the story goes on. Until when will administrators of codes and clubs be reduced to beggars just because they want what is good for their codes?
A Commission of Inquiry should be established to clear out all these challenges in our sports. Failure to do may see Namibia having to train more drug and alcohol rehabilitation officers. Be warned.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015