THIS week, I was planning to address something other than what you will read below. Unfortunately, there are things that one can just not ignore. Especially if they threaten relationships between people and institutions who have been entrusted with responsibility to develop and promote sport.
My topic this week was going to be about sports funding. I was going to zero in on the national budget that was presented in Parliament last week. We know from reports that the sports budget was cut by N$100 million. We know what that means? It means we are back to where we were last year or even worse. We remember the order from the sports ministry to the Namibia Sports Commission to inform federations not to expect any funding because of lack of funds at Treasury.
It really got me wondering whether there is anyone in the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Sport and/or Parliament who understands the impact of their decisions on sportsmen and women. If they do, how then do they treat sport as a stepchild? Reams and reams of books have been written about the potential that sport has to turn around an economy. Do not go further than South Africa where the poorest of the poor have become multi-millionaires because of sport. In other countries, the same truth holds.
I have sympathy for the men and women who are unable to compete in their favourite sports or represent their country internationally because of lack of funds. I am tempted to remind politicians of the good old days just after we gained independence. Due to bilateral programmes with other countries we were able to send many of our athletes to foreign shores. They have done well for themselves and are living the good life because of the opportunity that Government gave them to expose their talent in other countries. My question is where has the current crop of politicians gone wrong? Where is the distaste for sport coming from? How have priorities changed over the years that Government has little regard for sport. Where it is involved currently, it is at a very small scale?
My seniors in the trade as well as independent commentators have openly challenged to come out in the open and explain its position on sports. I do the same now. What we have been told through speeches are promises that have not materialised. Sportsmen and women are told to wait for the amendment of the Sports Act. How exactly will that help if politicians do not demonstrate the desire to want to help?
Maybe politicians need to be reminded that sport is all that some Namibians can do. They need to be supported to excel in what they are good at. The opposite of that is increasing the numbers of unemployed people. Sport is the answer. It does not just create jobs. It also promotes health and hygiene. Those are issues we are struggling with. Why not just fund sport adequately and minimise your stress on unemployment, health and hygiene and to a certain extent poverty?
In the end, this topic on sports funding got me worked up so much that I decided to go the full length. I shall address the other pertinent issue in next week’s column and hopefully there will be new developments that I can share with you, my loyal readers.
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