By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA Schools Sports Union (NSSU) has laid the blame for the country’s lack of young athletics talent coming through the ranks at the door of the Athletics Namibia (AN) and the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC), which it said do not have sustainable development programmes in place.
NSSU National Coordinator, Solly Duiker, said that the organisation had in fact over the years identified potential talent, who could compete competitively at international level, but that these athletes had not been developed by AN and the NNOC.
He was responding to recent comments by Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarero, who said that the NSSU has failed to identify young athletes with potential, in which the ministry could invest. Duiker said the NSSU’s mandate is to develop sport at grassroots level, by identifying talent that can represent Namibia at the annual Confederation of Schools Sports Association of Southern Africa (COSSASA) Ball Games.
“The NSSU has fulfilled its mandate, but the challenge lies with the other stakeholders, who take our products (athletes) that we have identified, but the end result is always disappointing,” Duiker said.
He, however, agreed with the deputy minister that developing athletes into competitive sportsmen and women, takes about eight to ten years, and not the current two years, as is seen in Namibia. “We have identified athletes between the ages of 13 and 14 years old, but the challenge we face is the lack of qualified coaches, who can fully produce athletes that can bring home the medals that we so badly want from international competitions,” Duiker said.
He said that once the junior athletes are identified, they need a good support system, including conditioning coaches, dieticians and other experts.
“We really don’t have a system in place, but when one looks at neighbouring Botswana and South Africa, they have a pool of athletes that have already been identified, and are training at high-performance centres,” he said. “Namibia fielding ten athletes at an (international) event will happen by sheer luck.” Duiker said that athletes should normally have a two-month rest period, following the completion of the athletics calendar, but in Namibia athletes were lying dormant for much longer, due to a lack of funding and proper training programmes.
“We don’t even have athletes who can break the ten-second barrier in 100m or who can even run ten seconds flat, none whatsoever,” he said.
“It’s no use developing athletes who are already in their 20s, but instead we should concentrate on unearthing talent at the tender age of 13 and 14.”
He said Namibia’s female athletes also are likely to drop out from active sport, because of social pressures. However, Duiker acknowledged that talent is in abundance in the country, but unfortunately there is no skilled manpower to travel to all the regions to scout.
AN President, Erwin Naimhwaka, agreed that there are no substantive programmes in place to maintain the talented young athletes, who are unearthed by the NSSU.
“The development of athletes strictly depends on resources. We do have a strategy that will be able to maintain the athletes, who come through the NSSU programme, but the strategy will simply remain a strategy, if it’s not able to address the development of our athletes,” Naimhwaka said.
He said junior athletes need to be developed, as they eventually graduate into senior athletes. “We are now engaging the private sector to come on board, so that through their sponsorship they can market themselves and promote their corporate social responsibility programmes,” Naimhwaka said. He said that any development strategy can only come to fruition, once all stakeholders comprehend the importance of having such programmes.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015