By John Tuerijama
THE cross country discipline of athletics could be the latest victim of the age-old problem of sports funding in Namibia.
The National Cross Country Championships will not take place if no sponsor is found and that could mean no Namibian will participate at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships slated for March 2017 in Kampala, Uganda.
Namibia last participated in the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Warsaw, Poland, represented by Lavinia Haitope and Mynhardt Kauanivi.
Athletics Namibia’s chairperson for cross country, Tobias Hiskia said Namibia’s participation at this year’s IAAF cross country championship depends on whether a national cross country championship is held as scheduled. He said the organisers are struggling to get a sponsor as there is simply no money in their coffers.
“Apart from the scarce financial resources, there is the also the problem of lack of facilities. Sport in Namibia is lagging behind and when one looks back at the early 90’s, we had the likes of Frank Fredericks and Lucketz Swartbooi but now we can’t produce a world class champion,” he lamented.
“To travel to Uganda as a Namibian team will be difficult and as you rightfully know, all sport codes are struggling financially. Even if we have the national cross country championships, we will have problems getting athletes in a training camp to prepare for the world championship,” he explained.
Supposing that the national championships are held, Hiskia said athletes will still need pocket money, flight tickets, physio therapy and a balanced diet which would be impossible without any funding or sponsorships.
“How can we expect athletes to bring home medals if we don’t invest in sport? Countries like Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia are already in their respective training camps while we are struggling financially to host our very own cross country championship.”
Hiskia said N$130 000 is needed to have a fully-fledge team in Uganda but he did not rule out the possibility of sending only four athletes in the senior and junior categories.
He said Namibia is endowed with an abundance of talent but unfortunately the country does not have the capital to develop such talent.
“Government needs to support us because the burden is solely placed on the sport bodies to fend for themselves and we will never accomplish nor produce any world champions if this scenario continues unabated,” stressed Hiskia.
Former cross country chairman, Mike Haimbodi has advised the current leadership of athletics to use part of the grant from the IAAF to host the national cross country championships.
“During our reign, we used to get an annual grant N$100 000 from the IAAF but now I think the grant has increased to N$200 000.
“In order to host the national championships, the leadership must get an in-kind sponsorship just to create the platform to select a team,” he said.
He said time is running out for the potential athletes and thus called on corporate giants to come on board as Namibia has the potential of producing world
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