By John Tuerijama
FOR once let’s forget about the negative publicity that has marred our local sport industry and instead give a very strong shout-out to our Paralympic Games athletes who went there as competitors and not merely participators.
The Namibian Paralympic Committee has once again demonstrated that they are the country’s pride since they scooped five medals at the just-ended Summer Games in Rio, Brazil.
I don’t think that the top brass in the Ministry of Sport are wondering on how to ‘thank’ our brilliant athletes; and for starters Paralympian sprinter Johanna Benson was presented with a house and cash injection for winning medals, and that is the measurable yardstick on which those in the Sport Ministry must start from.
I personally think that both Ananias Shikongo (gold, two bronze medals) and Johannes Nambala (two silver medals) deserve equal treatment that was bestowed on Benson as we cannot afford to go two steps backwards.
Equally, these two athletes did Namibia proud but there will only be one Disability Sportsman of the Year during the 2016 Sports Awards but their achievement for last athletic calendar will determine who did exceptionally well at national, regional, continental and global level.
How do the Paralympic leadership get it right? We sent an able-bodied team to Brazil who did more harm than anything else; they brought more shame as they only added their number to the participating teams.
This might sound awkward, but I personally think that both Shikongo and Nambala despite their incapacities to be recognised as abled-bodied athletes need to be considered for the MTC Sportsman of the Year Award.
Who of the abled-bodied athletes deserves any recognition in that portfolio; this is sure discrimination of the highest order.
I am thankful that Nampower has embraced the Paralympic sport, and assisted financially in the preparation of our athletes for the Summer Games, and without Nampower’s input I doubt if our athletes could have accomplished what they achieved in Rio de Janeiro.
Despite their awesome performance, another worrying scenario that I have just observed during the launch of the 2016 NSC Sport awards is that there is no one from the disability sport on the ‘panel of judges’ even after being told the importance of inclusivity and that no one should be left out.
Why than do we have such imbalances in the NSC panel of judges. Let’s face it the sports awards discriminate against the Paralympians in that all they set to compete in are in the only two categories of sportsmen, sportswomen and junior sportsmen and sportswomen categories, and that is really uncalled for.
There is an award for the best development programme yet the disability programmes are never considered as possible competitors.
I thus move that since our abled-bodied athletes have done absolutely nothing for the past year, which is a worrying situation not just to sports scribers but to the sport leadership at all levels.
One again congratulations to our Paralympic team for putting Namibia’s name amongst the very best sporting nations globally.
Let us reward these athletes handsomely so that they can bring home more awards unlike their abled-bodied compatriots who did little to inspire us.
Thanks once again!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015