By John Tuerijama
THE Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) chairperson, Joel Mathews says he is not happy with the circumstances under which Namibian athletes prepare for international sporting events.
Reflecting on the country’s sports performance this year, Mathews said in most cases, athletes have had little time to prepare themselves adequately due to work commitments which prevent them from putting the required amount of time in their training sessions.
“But yet, we expect them to beat professionals that have the best training conditions the world over. In many cases, if not all, our athletes do not receive monetary support to be able to participate continuously on the world stage against the same athletes they (Namibian athletes) are expected to encounter and build experience,” he stressed.
The last major sports events where Namibians participated was the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and the Paralympics. While no Namibian won any medal at the Summer Olympics, athletes with disabilities raked in at least five medals at the Paralympics, one of them being a gold medal.
“Compared to the investment that is gone into sport in our country I must say yes I am impressed, because the athletes and officials have done their level best under the circumstances, even though I still believe there is room for improvement,” he said.
“As a commission, we have never sat with our federations and athletes to define high performance goals. How can we not be impressed with what athletes bring home when they are left alone with very limited or no help at all and yet they go out there to compete against the best in the world,” he lamented.
Mathews has encouraged athletes to never give up, using the age old adage that ‘Rome was not built in one day’.
“For those that have won medals at the international events, I say well done. You have made us proud. As a nation we must learn to praise and appreciate our athletes for their achievements as they don’t have the same opportunities that their medal podium contenders have,” he said.
Asked about federations that fail to send athletes to international sporting events, Mathews said: “I also served sport at the national federation level for many years. I know that in many cases federations do not fail to send athletes to international competitions intentionally, but it is due to financial difficulties.”
“If this is a case where it was due to i ll–preparedness, I urge those federations to get their houses in order to avoid denying athletes the opportunity to participate. The sole purpose of establishing a federation is merely to create opportunities for athletes to participate either locally or internationally,” he said.
He added: “To be honest with you, and talking from my experience as a national federation leader, I don’t think this act is intentional. Most federations are forced to prepare at the 11th hour due to financial difficulties. They cannot afford to organise a training camp for their athletes. Most of the sporting codes in Namibia depend on the players sourcing for their own funds in order to be able to send a national team”.
He said in the absence of policy and poor investment in sport, this situation will always be the case and cannot be blamed on federations alone.
Mathews revealed that the commission has submitted a huge budget to the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service to try and address some of the challenges facing sport.
“If we receive the budget as submitted we will definitely be able to address our stakeholders’ financial difficulties to an extent. The second option, which we highly consider is the creation of a commercial branch for the NSC that can help to generate resources for sport. We are still to develop an investment strategy that can help us to identify investment opportunities,” he said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015